According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong is set to be the second place in the world, after Japan, to deploy electric police cars.

The newspaper said that a successful three-week trial this month of Mitsubishi's electric car, the iMiEV, should ensure they are added to the police fleet when they come into mass production.

The iMiEV can travel 160 kilometres after an eight-hour charge with a household plug, and has a top speed of 130km/h.

The government has been promoting the car's use in Hong Kong since February, when it signed a memorandum of understanding with the carmaker and the distributor. Mitsubishi has agreed to supply 10 of the vehicles to the government from its first batch by the end of this year or early next year, a source said.

Three are expected to go to the police fleet as the first step to replacing 500 patrol cars, Senior Inspector Joe Li Tung-cheung, of the police transport division, said.

"The test drives have been very satisfactory and we are confident that its performance will be on par with patrol cars," he said, but added that electric cars would not be used as "response vehicles".

"Electric cars have advantages on islands such as Cheung Chau and Lamma, where no gas stations are available," Mr Li said. "The minicars can also get through those narrow trails in the New Territories."