China drives down the electric vehicle highway

The Chery EQ is a low-cost electric model set for sale in China in November.

Country moves to end production of gas, diesel vehicles

China is moving forward with plans to eliminate fossil-fuel powered vehicles according to a report from Bloomberg. The country’s vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobin, said the government will set a deadline to end the production and sales of fossil-fuel-dependent vehicles during a Sept. 9 forum in Tianjin.

The Asian dragon sought to invigorate its automobile market by supporting efforts to boost the electric vehicle market, which is being led in the country by BAIC Motor Corporation and BYD Co. With a strategy now revealed, China is set to be the largest market to transition to electricity-powered vehicles.

The initiative serves as a one-two punch to rock the Chinese automobile industry and its environmental concerns. China has a carbon emissions record to fix on a global scale. The quickest way for the Chinese government, it seems, to speed up the reduction in these emissions is by planning a ban on combustion-engine automobiles.

It also served as the Asian country’s way to join France and UK in the road to phasing out automobiles dependent on diesel and gasoline. With most of the air pollution attributed to carbon emissions, the country has set 2030 as the target date to reduce its the environmentally-challenging record.

Automobile manufacturers like Chery Automobile Co. have braced themselves for the looming ban. But while China’s deadline is estimated at 2030, Chery’s Assistant General Manager Lin Zhijia believes “The implementation of the ban for such a big market like China can be later than 2040. That will leave plenty of time for everyone to prepare.”

The Chinese automobile makers found success in manufacturing plug-in models like the ones that Chery Automobile Co. presented at the Frankfurt motor show a week ago. The quick development is attributed to subsidies provided by the government. Despite the presence of Western manufacturers like Tesla and General Motors, and Japan’s Nissan, these Chinese companies are getting an early jump on a market ready to drive electricity-powered vehicles.

BYD, a start-up that includes investor Warren Buffett, generated sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles totaling 46,855 in the past seven months. The electric vehicle division of the state-owned BAIC Motors was ranked as second best by the China Passenger Car Association with a total number of 36,084 units sold within the same period.

These numbers dwarfed the sales generated by General Motors in China. The American automobile company launched its electricity-dependent model, the Velite 5 plug-in hybrid model, in April 2017.

Nissan unveiled the upgraded version of its Leaf EV also a week ago. That model will be officially released to the Chinese market before 2019. The other Japanese automobile maker, Honda Motors Co., has yet to launch its electric-powered vehicle to the Chinese market, according to Yasuhide Mizuno, Honda’s COO in China, in a statement given to the Tianjin forum. He also mentioned efforts to develop a new brand are underway with joint ventures sealed with Dongfeng Honda Automobile Company and Guangqi Honda Automobile Company.

Zhang Yang of the Chinese start-up Nio acknowledged the need for powertrains for electric freight interviews, calling on the automobile industry as a whole to “develop new powertrains.”

This move was perceived as a response in anticipation of Tesla’s plan to go local in terms of manufacturing. The Elon Musk start-up is reported to be in a collaborative effort with the Shanghai government to localize production. These strategies are expected to boost the production-based economy.

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