Why Chinese Policy Favors EVs Over Hybrids

Insights as to why the Chinese are favoring battery electric vehicles over hybrids were recently offered by a Beijing-based auto publication.

China Car Times observed that the Chinese government is pushing heavily for “new energy cars” over hybrids because Chinese industry will likely never catch up to the technology offered by European, American or Japanese cars.

For this reason a carrot-and-stick incentive policy is heavily weighted toward developing EVs, leaving hybrids about as unwanted as a second child in the eyes of central planners.

Presently, a private buyer can offset an EV purchase by as much as 60,000 Yuan ($9,314) in subsidies from the central government and possibly more by other locally offered subsidies, the editorial said.

In contrast, a hybrid buyer can get 3,000 Yuan ($465) in subsidies and the displacement must be under 1.6 liters. This is no different than subsidies for other non-hybrid fuel-efficient cars.

This policy is going on despite the fact that China has scant infrastructure to charge short-range, cheap and slow EVs, and the planners know this, the writer said, but there is method to the madness.

“Chinese-developed hybrid cars always consume more fuel than conventional cars,” China Car Times said, “Even Buick LaCrosse Hybrid, a car developed by GM’s technical center in China, cannot save fuel in city driving conditions, let alone other hybrid cars of local brands.”

Because a hybrid car represents a technological “pinnacle” – with its efficient internal combustion engine and complicated gearbox used for shifting as well as electromechanical coupling – the Chinese know they would be fighting a losing battle.

“Most Chinese car makers can develop neither engine controller nor automatic transmission,” said China Car Times. “How can they develop an acceptable hybrid system?”

The answer is: they can’t, so move on to save face, said the editorial.

A poorly performing hybrid can be a plainly seen embarrassment compared to better performing imported hybrids, or even well-designed conventional economy cars.

As such, EVs represent something closer to starting from scratch. Presently, they are simpler to design and build, and range and recharge performance is relatively low the world over by internal-combustion and hybrid car standards.

“That is why Chinese automotive industry prefers pure electric than hybrid – it masks the poor foundation of car industry, and takes on a sense of prosperity temporarily,” wrote China Car Times.

This also highlights China’s underlying incentive to push for joint ventures where ever possible with advanced industry from abroad.

And as for its own growing industry, China is expediently encouraging domestic manufacturers and buyers to favor EVs as a no-brainer.

The writer ends asking whether these cars have many technical advantages. “We are following up foreign technology,” said Wen Jiabao, China’s Prime Minister this month.


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  • Max Reid

    Most Chinese families have only 1 kid or maximum 2. So a 4-seater vehicle should be good enough. Develop a small 4-seater EV, make its body in plastic that will reduce the weight to compensate the weight increase from heavier battery. Let it have some 150 – 250 km range. When they go on long trips, they can either mount a generator for charging or rent a gasolene vehicle.

    So they get the Best of Both Worlds. Remember their population is 1.3 billion and if they go with Oil, they will become bankrupt pretty much like USA.

  • 9691

    Chinese industry will likely never catch up to the technology offered by European, American or Japanese cars. ????
    Oh come on. Who would believe that? Rome wasn’t build in a day. It’s only a matter of time, not a matter of saving face or going that far as to say that it is like fighting a losing battle. Extremes.

  • John111

    Don’t believe it, but this was based on a commentary from a Chinese car writer in China, so you go figure. Did you notice this is not the opinion of the writer, but he cites the source at the bottom of the article. Do you know better than the Chinese writer who wrote the first commentary? Maybe you have greater faith in his country than he does since no doubt you know China so much better than the writer in Beijing… ?

  • Roy Lou

    It is true that Chinese central GOV, and some local district GOVs they favor EVs more than Hybrids.

    Reason 1: Technology, recent China auto industry technology is definitely not in line with American’s, European’s and Japan’s.
    Reason 2: Time, how many years should China spend to catch up with the advanced countries’ tech? No one knows and no one can be sure about it.
    Reason 3: Fund, they’d prefer spend the money to develop EVs rather than to catch up the existing high tech in Western countries,
    and actually most of the GDP was used in building house in China recently.

  • guyverfanboy

    China’s EV’s are dirtier than hybrids because of the China’s reliance on coal to power their electrical power grid.


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    We should not forget that China is a country with a billion people. Therefore, it is lobbying production of electric vehicles, possibly due to concern for the environment.
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