China Wants to Become King of Electric Cars & Hybrids

china byd electric cars photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Will China Leapfrog Western Carmakers?
China's government has adopted a new plan that aims to make it king of the hill when it comes to electric cars and hybrids. The NYT writes: "To some extent, China is making a virtue of a liability. It is behind the United States, Japan and other countries when it comes to making gas-powered vehicles, but by skipping the current technology, China hopes to get a jump on the next." China wants to become a leader in that industry, but also to reduce air pollution in its crowded cities and reduce its dependence on middle-Eastern oil. But what does it plan to do to get there?

Shanghai. Photo: Public domain.

From the NYT:

Beyond manufacturing, subsidies of up to $8,800 are being offered to taxi fleets and local government agencies in 13 Chinese cities for each hybrid or all-electric vehicle they purchase. The state electricity grid has been ordered to set up electric car charging stations in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

Government research subsidies for electric car designs are increasing rapidly. And an interagency panel is planning tax credits for consumers who buy alternative energy vehicles.

The target is half a million hybrids or electric cars by the end of 2011 (buses count too). This compares to about 1.1 million electric or hybrid vehicles (mostly hybrids, of course) for Japan and South-Korea, and about 267,000 for North-America.

Pure EVs also fit a bit a little more easily in China than the US. Most drivers almost never leave the city, commutes are shorter, and most of the driving is done at low speed (because of traffic jams). This sounds like an argument for better public transit, I think...

But if China is serious about this, it should end its price controls and subsidies for gasoline. This only encourages waste and slows down the introduction of cleaner technologies.

Via New York Times
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