China is progressively establishing itself as the world’s largest automobile producer and consumer, including electric vehicles.
The country, for instance, produced 18,420,000 vehicles and sold 18,510,000 vehicles in 2011. Now, China is taking an ambitious step to be a global leader in the next-generation electric car industry as well.
Although China is lagging behind foreign competitors in terms of technological competence in the EV and key component industries, it is endeavoring to increase its competitiveness, promoting early commercialization through trial and error.
For this, China has designated new energy vehicles Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)] as one of its seven new strategic industries.
With aggressive government backing for the industry, Research and Markets expects China to hold the central place as the largest producer and seller in the global EV market.
On July 14, 2011, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China announced a plan titled “Development of New Energy Vehicles Industry (2011-2020)” where it set a goal of increasing the cumulative sales of new energy vehicles (excluding fuel battery cars) to about 1 million units by 2015 and 10 million units by 2020.
Although these new energy vehicles are available at 2-3 times higher prices than those of existing ICE car models, they can run only about 150 km (94 miles) (based on pure EVs) on one charge.
Thus, the new energy vehicle industry involves enormous investments and requires large-scale charging infrastructure across China. Furthermore, these problems are coupled with the slow progress in the development of batteries, which are one of key components for EVs.
As a result, China’s sales of new energy vehicles and hybrid cars remained as low as 8,159 vehicles in 2011, despite the unwavering government support, representing an extremely small market share with 0.04 of the total automobile sales.
To establish a more substantial and realistic measure, the Chinese government revised its original plan, putting forward ‘Energy-saving and New Energy Automobile Industry Development Plan (2012-2020)’ where it has downgraded the cumulative sales of new energy vehicles (excluding fuel battery cars) to 0.5 million units by 2015 and 5 million units by 2020.
However, only 3,444 BEVs, and 81 PHEVs have been sold in the first half of 2012.
SNE Research published a report titled “China Electric Vehicle Industry Trend and Market Forecast (2009-2020)”, available through Research & Markets, to help understand the situation.
Although the Chinese government is promoting the EV industry, concentrating on new energy vehicles (BEVs, and PHEVs), its 2012 target does not seem attainable. According to SNE Research, the general EV market will shift toward the energy-saving vehicle market (hybrid vehicles), not new energy vehicles like BEVs and PHEVs.
SNE Research expects China’s annual EV sales will reach 4,050,000 vehicles in 2020; as for the sales of EVs by type, BEVs will account for 620,000 units, PHEVs 410,000 units, and HEVs 3,030,000 units.
It is forecasted that the EV market in China will shift toward the HEV market rather than energy vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) with BEV accounting for 15.2 percent in market share, PHEVs 10.1 percent, and HEVs 74.7 percent. The total share of various EVs is expected to increase from 0.04 percent in 2011 to 11.8 percent of the total 2020 automobile sales in China.