China's air-pollution problem is apparent to anyone watching coverage of this week's summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group.

Or, for that matter, any other news to come out of the country over the last several years. 

To drive away the clouds of smog that hang over its cities, the government has recently looked to boost electric-car adoption--in some cases quite aggressively.

RELATED: Beijing Slashes Car Sales Quota By 40 Percent To Tackle Air Pollution

While the national government offers numerous incentives, the city of Beijing is also slashing car-sales quotas and giving priority to electric-car purchases.

The city set up a lottery earlier this year to promote electric cars, but the public hasn't responded enthusiastically.

According to a report from China Daily, about 70 percent of the 1,424 lottery winners failed to buy electric cars before their right to a registration slot expired October 26.

2014 Tesla Model S in China

2014 Tesla Model S in China

That was after the deadline had already been extended by two months.

The disinterest seems to be caused by a lack of charging infrastructure, with 40 percent of lottery winners reportedly giving up the change to get a car because they have no place to plug one in.

Providing enough charging stations to service a large fleet of electric cars is proving difficult in virtually every country, but the situation is particularly complicated in China, where most citizens live in apartment buildings rather than individual homes.

MORE: Has China 'Messed Up' Its Electric-Car Charging Standards?

Worse, the country has no unified charging standards. So even if Beijing residents can find one of the handful of stations currently operating, there's no guarantee their cars will be able to recharge there.

To rectify the problem, the Beijing city government plans to install 1,000 public charging stations by the end of the year.

It will also require developers to designate 18 percent of parking spaces in new or renovated developments for electric-car charging.

BYD Qin plug-in hybrid sedan, unveiled at Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, April 2012

BYD Qin plug-in hybrid sedan, unveiled at Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, April 2012

Improved infrastructure will likely increase the appeal of electric cars. But it remains to be seen whether it can succeed where copious government nudging has failed in helping China to meet its lofty zero-emission vehicle goals.

The national government presently offers up to 60,000 yuan (about $9,800) for the purchase of a new electric car. It plans to replace this subsidy with a new scheme next year.

ALSO SEE: China Adds Even More Electric-Car Incentives--Mostly For Local Brands

It also recently added tax breaks--primarily for local models--to help drive China toward the goal of having 5 million "new-energy vehicles" on its roads by 2020.

Some definitions of that term, however, include not only battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids, but also conventional hybrid vehicles (as well as largely nonexistent hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles).


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