China's Strict Pollution Standards Will Make the Country Hub for EVs
【Summary】With China’s recent decision to become more stringent on automobile pollution, automakers are turning towards the country as the hub for electric vehicle development.
As the world's most populous country, China has a lot of say in what vehicles automakers make. Chinese consumers, for instance, like to have a lot of rear legroom in their vehicles. When automakers saw this, they decided to make bespoke, long wheelbase variants of their vehicles for the specific country. Heck, even supercar automakers, like Ferrari, create unique, special-edition versions for wealthy Chinese drivers to purchase.
While automotive sales in other countries is decreasing, Reuters, earlier this year, claimed that automobile sales would grow five percent in 2017. So automakers are looking towards China as a way of checking which vehicles are in demand. According to a report from Automotive News, the country's recent crackdown on automobile pollution will see the country become a hub for electric vehicle development.
America Ditches EVs, While China Doubles Down
The report cites industry executives from Europe and the United States that revealed the revelation at the Shanghai auto show. According to Automotive News, Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess told Reuters that, "we are convinced China will become the leading market for electromobility," at the auto show.
As the outlet reports, foreign automakers have been scrambling to meet China's surging automotive demand. But the country recently put various proposals in place to promote cleaner driving in the country. As Automotive News reports, these proposals are encouraging automakers worldwide to research fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly automobiles, making China the leader in EV tech.
Low gas prices and the high manufacturing costs have made electric vehicles unpopular in the automotive segment. It's also important to mention that current technology holds electric vehicles back from being true rivals to gasoline-powered cars. The Nissan Leaf, for instance is only capable of traveling up to 107 miles on one charge, making range anxiety a concern for electric-vehicle owners.
With China coming out with proposals that would require automakers to increase sales of "new energy vehicles" or risk being penalized, as Automotive News reports, the country has given every auto manufacturer in the world a reason to pursue clean vehicles.
Make Electric Vehicles Or Suffer
The flip side of the move, though, could also be a setback for other major automotive countries, including the U.S., Japan, and Germany, claims the outlet. "There is a clear (Chinese) government policy in a favor of electromobility – high subsidies and an industrial framework in the form of join venture companies which are being encouraged to invest in this technology," said Diess. He also added that Beijing may be attempting to replicate the success that hybrid technology has had in Japan and diesel cars in Germany, claims Automotive News.
When looking at hard numbers, this move to electric vehicles could hurt automakers in a big way. Management consulting firm McKinsey, as reported by Automotive News, claims that 43 percent of the 870,000 EVs produced last year came from China. Germany accounted for 23 percent, while the U.S. lagged behind at just 17 percent.
Some automakers saw this change coming and have started to develop EV technology in the country. Infiniti, for example, announced plans to expand its presence in China with the release of an electric vehicle that could have autonomous capabilities by 2020. While major automakers like Infiniti and Volkswagen will have somewhat of an easy time releasing electric vehicles in the country, EV startups will have a more difficult time, as the Minsitry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has limited the number of startups to just 10 a year.
With China leading the way for the automotive scene, expect to see more electric vehicles on the road in the near future.
Vineeth Joel Patel
Joel Patel has been covering all aspects of the automotive industry for four years as an editor and freelance writer for various websites. When it comes to cars, he enjoys covering the merger between technology and cars. In his spare time, Joel likes to watch baseball, work on his car, and try new foods
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