Beijing cars and smog

Would Beijing residents rather walk than drive a Chinese-made electric vehicle? That appears to be the case, since few of them are applying for EV licenses despite having little chance of getting approved for new conventional vehicles. The trend will do little to help Beijing's position as the world's second-most air-polluted city (after New Delhi, India).

There are about 21 million people in Beijing and about 5 million vehicles. The International Business Times, citing the South China Morning Post, says the Chinese government has only received about 1,700 applications for new electric vehicles despite setting aside about 20,000 new EV license plates. The glut stands in stark contrast to new conventional vehicles, since Beijing residents have less than a one-percent chance of getting approved for a gas-burner and need to try over and over before they obtain one. IBT says that anyone who has applied for a license in the lottery "at least 37 times" will have a 2.4 percent chance of getting one. Even against those odds, citizens there remain wary of both EV technology and the prospect of driving a Chinese-made vehicle, IBT says, even factoring in the more than $10,000 worth of perks the government is providing for EV buyers.

That isn't stopping automakers from trying to sell plug-in vehicles there, though. A partnership between Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and China-based BYD is due to start selling their Denza EV in China this summer. Earlier this year, California-based EV maker Tesla Motors priced its Model S at about $121,000, which is more than that car costs in the US but represents less of a mark-up than what other automakers are charging when they bring models to China.