Anyone who is following the electric vehicle industry will have heard that China is really pushing hard with EVs and renewable energy development but what is actually happening any why is China this new wonder nation for new energy? After living in China for just over 2 years now and seeing the rapid changes in such a short time, here are some of the reasons I believe are why the world is looking to China for EVs and renewable energy production.
Curbing Pollution – essentially the most urgent reason to adopt electric vehicles is to reduce air pollution and China stands to gain a lot from lower emission. Its not a secret that the air quality in major Chinese cities is pretty horrendous so without the millions of cars pumping out exhaust fumes, there are environmental gains to be had. Also, with the heavy investment into solar panels to replace existing coal power plants, it is full steam ahead with the air clean up. China is the worlds largest polluter so the reduction in emissions will benefit the entire region surrounding Asia.
Beijing 28th of March 2018
EVs are already common in China – electric scooters, 3 wheeled utility vehicles and small cars have been readily available in China for a few years now so the models you buy now are already in their 2nd or 3rd generation. Electric cars are still relatively new but the technology has been commonplace for a much longer period of time than the other nations starting to focus on EVs.
E-bikes are a common sight in Beijing. This picture was taken today outside my office.
Public Opinions are Different - because private vehicles are still historically a much newer thing in China (citizens could only own a car since 1994) the number of car/motorcycle enthusiasts are lower and the attachment to combustion vehicles didn’t have as long to get ingrained into the populous. The reluctance from the public to move away from combustion vehicles is not really a problem like in other countries.
The Automotive Industry is Starting Fresh – everyone knows the reputation that Chinese vehicles have and there have been quite a few bright sparks who are taking this move to electric as the opportunity to start from scratch. A few of the major Chinese car companies such as BYD are entering Western markets as a fresh, new company with their electric models. There are also several new companies like NIO and Evoke who are releasing their first models to an international market with a more global attitude. With lower production costs, rising product quality and government incentives for both EVs and startups, these Chinese startups have a sudden advantage over companies starting in other markets. Chinese manufacturers have been building cars and motorcycles for years but they have mainly been focusing on domestic sales. Now, with these new EVs, they are targeting developed nations while the traditional Western companies are still lagging a few years behind with their EV development.
The Government is on the EV Wagon – the Chinese government is investing heavily in companies building and developing EVs as part of their new “made in china” initiative which sees China moving from manufacturing low value goods to cars, higher end electronics and overall more technology-based products. With the current US administration still pushing for fossil fuels, China has taken notice and sees this as the time to take over as the worlds EV and renewable energy provider. At the moment it is looking like one country’s loss is another country’s gain.
China Produces Low Cost Batteries and Components – China is one of the few countries that has the capability to produce lithium Ion batteries and is the only country that currently produces cheap battery cells. Some of them are of questionable quality but it does allow for lower cost Li-on products to hit the market and provides a lower entry barrier to companies who want to start manufacturing anything electric. Also, a major advantage is that 100% of the components needed to build an EV are manufactured within close proximity to the larger Chinese cities. The manufacturing nightmares that Tesla re having would never be a problem in China.
It is an interesting time to be in the EV industry in China and the future is starting to look a lot less smoggy.
By: Connor McRae
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