Business / Auto China

Electric carmakers galvanized by anti-pollution measures

By Lyu Chang (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-08 10:55

China's leading manufacturers of electric cars will receive a big boost in the next five years, as the country provides more support for the sector amid mounting pressure to combat air pollution.

During a meeting of the State Council this month, Premier Li Keqiang pledged to push for greater use of new-energy vehicles, and to encourage more innovation to accelerate the development of the sector.

China, the world's largest consumer of energy, will increase the proportion of new-energy vehicles in public transport and logistics to more than 50 percent.

Rather than subsidies, the government will provide fiscal rewards for qualified companies, and also plans to expand the charging-station network to meet the need of the growing number of new-energy cars.

"The measures show the country's determination to boost green development to rein in pollution, with more support given to the research and development of battery technologies and key components," said Wang Binggang, an electric vehicle expert who leads the National 863 Energy-saving and New-energy Vehicle Project.

Wang said the government will eventually stop providing large subsidies for EV purchases, and the industry will shift from being policy-driven to market-driven in the next five years. "If an industry can only survive on subsidies, it is not healthy," he said.

However, by developing standards for charging stations and making licenses available for new-energy vehicles, the government hopes to boost the popularity of electric cars.

New-energy vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in China. Last year, sales surpassed 331,100 units, more than three times the number in 2014, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

With more measures being rolled out, major electric carmakers hope to cash in over the next five years.

Beijing Electric Vehicle Co, a subsidiary of BAIC Motor Corp, has announced a five-year plan for the development of new-energy vehicles after topping the domestic market in terms of sales volume.

The electric carmaker, located in Beijing, plans to expand annual production and achieve sales volume of 500,000 units by 2020. It is also expected to rake in 60 billion yuan ($9 billion) in sales in the next five years.

Zheng Gang, Beijing Electric Vehicle's general manager, said the company will redouble its efforts in research and development, and will build a team with more than 5,000 workers.

The company has also teamed up with Guoxuan High Tech, a leading manufacturer of electric-vehicle batteries, to set up an R&D center in California's Silicon Valley to take advantage of the region's innovative, cutting-edge science and technology. The center will achieve progress in "areas of future growth", as Zheng put it, including vehicle networking and autonomous driving technologies.

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