How China has become an electric vehicle leader
China manufactured 24.8 million passenger cars in 2017 alone, which means it has the largest production of any country. So one could assume, that it would make sense for China to lead the way with electric vehicles (EVs) too – they are incentivized to do so due to environmental reasons.
It’s estimated that over 1 million people per year die of air pollution in China. A mass change to electric cars and other zero-emission vehicles could go a long way to improving air quality and reducing the fatality rate.
History of the Chinese EV market
In 2001 China starts off with the “863 EV Project” which was a combination of a fuel cell, hybrid EV, and pure EV. In 2008, exactly 366 new energy vehicles were sold. In 2009 China surpassed the United States as the largest automobile market with the sale of 13.9 million vehicles sold. This huge market growth is due to the economic development of the country – an increasing number of people can afford to buy cars.
For electric vehicles, the goal is to have 5 million plug-in hybrid electric cars on the roads by 2020 and with an annual production of 1 million per year.
China’s public charging stations
China has committed to electric vehicles, and in part, has committed to the mass development of public charging stations. By the end of 2017, there were 214,000 were installed. This might seem like a big number, but in reality, it can be problematic for the general public to plan out a journey so that sufficient power isn’t a problem – after all, China is a relatively large country.
On the other hand, commercial bus operators can calculate the exact power requirements and figure out the best routes to take. Also, 232,000 private charging stations were installed in homes across China.
The implementation of this infrastructure encourages car manufacturers to build more electric vehicles and more consumers will be interested in purchasing one. Once there are enough charging stations spread out across the country the popularity of electric vehicles will rise in parallel.
The Chinese government understands the benefits of electric vehicles to ease environmental problems and the demand for oil. It’s estimated that electric vehicle energy efficiency is 45% better than internal combustion engines.
Oil imports in China are growing at an unsustainable rate and the demand for cars is only increasing as the Chinese economic might and population continue to grow. Electric vehicles could be part of the answer – the government is making legislative changes and incentives to favor electric vehicle production and use.
In particular, China is favoring long-range cars, because EV’s with an excess of 400km (249 miles) saw a subsidy increase of 13%. Also, the minimum range for incentives was increased from 100 km to 150 km.
Chinese EV Startups
Another reason why China is the EV market leader is the array of startups. Here are a few of the more notable ones:
- LVICHI Auto: the flagship car is the Venere which can do 0 to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds. The framework is manufactured from carbon fiber using a honeycomb design. This keeps the overall weight low while providing excellent power.
- BAIC BJEV: this is a state owned venture that was founded in 2009 and is one of the biggest EV companies in China. They have sold 30,000 units during the first half of 2017 and their post-money valuation is $4.2 billion.
- NIO: the company raised $2.1 billion from domestic giants such as Baidu and Tencent. The sport electric model EP9 is known as the fastest autonomous vehicle out there as it can reach 160mph without a human controlling the wheel.
China’s road to becoming the electric vehicle market leader is impressive and not unexpected given the overall rate of economic development the country is experiencing. As China continues to implement EV technologies the world should look to them for examples of what works and what doesn’t (Norway is a great place to learn from as well). It’s an exciting time in China when it comes to the automobile industry with so much innovation and changes to the marketplace. More importantly, in the years to come, we will get to see the impact that EV adoption is going to make on the air pollution in China’s heavily populated cities. Watch this space for further development in the coming years.