Sales of plug-in vehicles in China are quickly ramping up, spurred by generous government subsidies, which in turn are motivated by choking air pollution in the country’s major cities.
Yonghe Huang, Director of Policy Research at the China Automotive Technology Center, highlighted the explosive growth in a recent presentation. In 2014, automakers in China produced 84,700 EVs and PHEVs, up more than fivefold from the previous year. In the first six months of 2015, they have already produced 83,100 units.
Unless something drastically changes, China will handily overtake the US as the world’s largest plug-in vehicle market this year (US plug-in sales for the first six months of 2015 were 54,347).
The vast majority of these “new energy vehicles” are being produced by Chinese automakers, including BYD, BAIC and Geely/Kandi. According to Automotive News, these vehicles lack the cutting-edge technology featured in EVs from US, Japanese and European automakers, and therein lies a tale.
Foreign automakers have been slow to start producing EVs in China, and one of the reasons, as AN sees it, is fear that they will lose control of their intellectual property. Other reasons also come to mind, including China’s large proportion of apartment-dwellers and paucity of public charging stations, and a host of political and cultural issues that make doing business in the Middle Kingdom a challenge for Western firms (even the bold and daring Tesla).