China Inching Forward with Electric Cars and Hybrids

Although China has fallen far short of its ambitious goals to manufacture hundreds of thousands of all-electric and hybrid cars and buses each year, the country is taking tangible steps toward increasing the use of these alternative vehicles, according to an article in the New York Times. Each year, China can produce several thousand hybrid and all-electric cars and buses, the Times reports, a far cry from the 500,000 the country was aiming for by the end of 2011. 

Demonstration projects currently are taking place across the country, which may signal how the Chinese auto fleet will evolve in the near future. According to the Times, in an interesting twist, the state-run electric companies are behind the push to boost all-electric vehicles. This is in contrast to the U.S., where efforts are being led by the auto manufacturers themselves. 

As the Times reports:

“With China expected to surpass the United States in the number of all vehicles on the road by as early as 2020, the government-run utilities see it as their job to provide an alternative to imported oil as a way to power several hundred million cars, trucks and buses…”

“Although automakers in other countries have supplied charging equipment to be installed at homes and parking lots, China’s power industry has already made it clear that it wants to dictate when and how plug-in gasoline-electric hybrids and all-electric cars are charged, by owning the charging equipment and setting technical standards.”

“It is more and more difficult to manage the grid; we need more flexibility,” by controlling how cars are recharged, said Zhang Diansheng, the deputy general manager of China Southern Grid.”

The story also details the role that fair trade concerns are playing in the Chinese auto market, including why Nissan decided not to allow its new all-electric Leaf to go on sale there.