A few weeks after announcing minimal interference in the automotive sector, the Chinese government has now decided to wind down the subsidy program for electric as well as plug-in hybrids by the end of 2020 after cutting the incentives by more than 50 per cent last month.
However, judging by what has been displayed so far at the Shanghai Auto Show, there are no signs that the EV boom in China has had an impact on the global automotive landscape. But the future will tell a different tale. For the past few years, EV sales in China have remained explosive. In 2018, they jumped 62 per cent to almost 1 million, nearly all from the domestic brands.
Geely recently unveiled its all-electric brand Geometry.
When it comes to EV development, the Chinese brands have a powerful motive that their foreign rivals do not possess.
The generous subsidies have, for sure, played its part. But that alone does not explain why they have been so bullish on the technology. By merely accepting the fact that they have little chance of beating the global brands in the conventional vehicle market, the Chinese automotive market believes that EVs offer them a rare opportunity to establish competitive strength.
State-owned BAIC Motor Co., which is also China’s largest EV manufacturer is set to launch an electric crossover and an electric SUV under its BAIC brand. Along with it, the company will also display the ECF concept crossover that was earlier unveiled last month at the Geneva Motor Show under its Arcfox premium EV brand. The company expects to start selling the production Arcfox ECF in the second half of 2020.
In the past few years, dozens of EV start-ups have emerged across China such as Nio.
BYD, China’s another major EV manufacturer, which is partly owned by Warren Buffet, is also set to introduce its SA2 compact crossover, which will offer gasoline, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric versions. In addition to this, the company will also kick off sales of the e1 subcompact electric car. Developed on BYD’s new EV platform, the e1 was unveiled at Beijing in March this year. As small as it is, the e1 will feature four doors, five seats and a range of about 305 km.
China’s largest domestic carmaker, Geely Automobile Holdings, currently has only two electric models in their portfolio but is on track to quickly expand its line-up with its newly-launched EV brand Geometry.
In the past few years, dozens of EV start-ups have emerged across China. A few of the notable ones including Nio, WM Motor, and Xpeng Motors which opened their doors last year are set to unveild their new models at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show. On the same note, global automakers have been slow to introduce EVs to China. Volkswagen, which stands as the biggest foreign automaker in the country, won’t start selling its first batch of EVs until the middle of this year.
So far, only a small number – General Motors, Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co, – have launched EVs in the market. All this indicates that at least for the next few decades, the domestic brands will continue to command a lion’s share of China’s EV market.