Mark Webb-Johnson, environmental car advocate

Polly McGovern gets behind the wheel with Clearwater Bay resident and the Chairman of Charged Hong Kong.Meet Webb-Johnson, environmental car advocate

I was born in Hong Kong but moved back to England when I was six years old. I returned to Hong Kong after university.

In the 1980s, I co-founded a computer software network company called Houston Crest. We sold it in 1996, just before the crash, which was fantastic timing.

I took four years off and learnt to scuba dive in Malaysia. I was bored with recreational diving and so I became a technical diver and started teaching. I met my wife Jasmine on one of the courses and we now have three kids together.

I have always loved technology. As soon as it was released in Hong Kong, I purchased my first electric vehicle (EV), the Tesla Roadster. The technology is just wonderful and it can reach 0-60km in 3.7 seconds. At first, the government didn’t allow EVs on the expressways, so I had to get a
permit.

About a year ago, I was part of a group which formed Charged Hong Kong. We are an environmental charity which advocates for better air quality in Hong Kong through electric vehicles. I am the Chairman and we do our best to help people own and operate EVs. We also have an annual rally where we meet other drivers and show the vehicles to the public.

Our aim is to ‘EVangelise’ and let people know the benefits of owning an EV; tax free, low running costs and environmentally friendly. The range of the car is limited but that’s not important in Hong Kong as it is relatively small. There are some improvements to be made with installing chargers but the more popular EVs become, the easier this will be.

I think that Clearwater Bay and Sai Kung are ideal for EVs as it’s easier to get chargers installed in your house than in an apartment block. Charged HK is working on changes to policy and working with the government buildings to try and make it easier to install chargers.

The future is extremely exciting and I am hoping to see more models, particularly at the lower end of the market. I also want to see commercial changes, such as electric buses and electric courier companies.

Auto steer has already become a controversial topic and having the discussion now is interesting because it brings up the issue of who is legally responsible for autonomous vehicles. The government needs to react, take action and clarify the legislations.

Soon, you are going to be able to sit in the back seat and your car will drive you. I believe this will certainly happen within the next five years. The question is when will governments allow this technology on the streets?

For more information visit www.charged.hk

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