Beijing is expected to announce a series of preferential policies for electric vehicles (EVs) in the first half of 2013. Meanwhile, Shanghai is planning a rental programme for EVs.

The Beijing New Energy Auto Development Centre's deputy director, Chen Guiru, told Xinhua that the EV policies would include a maximum purchase subsidy of CNY120,000 (US$19,296) and the option to obtain licence plates without having to compete for them in the city's plate lottery. Statistics suggest that only one out of 77 applicants received licence plates in Beijing in February, marking a new low for the lottery since it began in 2011.

Chen believes owners of private electric cars should pay the same taxes as other drivers, and follow existing traffic control measures, including a restriction that requires cars to be off the road for one day every week based on their licence plate numbers.

Around 5,000 EVs are expected to hit Beijing's roads in 2013, of which 2,000 will be bought by individuals and groups, and the remaining will include electric buses and taxis.

According to Chen, 750 electric taxis have gone into service in seven of Beijing's suburban counties and districts, and two more districts will start using electric taxis in 2013. Beijing will also boost construction of public car charging facilities.

A separate report suggests Shanghai may introduce a rental programme for electric cars after successfully implementing such a programme for bicycles.

Shanghai GM has signed a cooperation agreement under which it will contribute EVs to Shanghai International Automobile City's fleet. The EVs will be used for a new rental programme that they will start testing soon, reported eastday.com, citing a source from the International Automobile City.

Cao Guangyu, deputy general manager for Shanghai International Automobile City said, "We are currently in the process of releasing an EV rental programme which residents of the city can use."

Such an initiative would enable Shanghai residents to enjoy the benefits of an EV at a low cost. The programme will involve the use of cards to facilitate rentals, and fees will be charged on a per-minute basis.