Wednesday, April 22, 2009

China's Rapacious Drive to Electric Cars

More on China's drive to turn the "lights" on for electric cars:

China is the only major car market still growing in the world, and it could mean the difference between life or death for some of these companies.

There's also been a lot of buzz that China is the place where electric cars will take off. Nick Reilly, the head of GM in Asia, said there was a "clear need" in Chinese cities for a small electrified car and that if the government handed out enough subsidies, "there could be very rapid sales growth".


Mr Reilly said that a closer look at the range and recharging abilities of the Chinese cars showed they weren't very different from technology elsewhere.

What will make China the leader in electric cars, however, is the infrastructure. Again according to GM, China is already able to absorb the impact of a huge switchover to electric vehicles without much new investment.

Kevin Wale, the former head of Vauxhall who now heads GM in China, said: "We are talking to the power grid, as are all car manufacturers who are interested in electric cars, and we don't think infrastructure us a major issue. The widespread distribution of electric cars can be more than covered by the existing power grid."

On top of that, China is pouring money into new nuclear power stations, wind farms and hydroelectric dams to increase the share of electricity it produces cleanly. As Greenpeace says, an electric car is only as green as the electricity it runs on.

One former car industry executive told me that China's strategy is straightforward. First, it builds the infrastructure. Then it waits for foreign brands to unveil their electric car technology. Then the technology gets "adapted".

- Brewskie

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