In a surprise development, the trend for electric car sales in China has taken a decidedly positive move, despite the fact the country is currently in economic chaos. This has surprised many people although experts point to the raft of external issues which are impacting the situation. So what exactly is going on?
Restricted registration of non-electric vehicles
It may come as a surprise to learn that the Chinese authorities in some of the major cities across China have restricted the number of new licence plates for non-electric vehicles. In Beijing, there are now just 20,000 new licence plates available each month and the recipients of these licence plates - costing up to $12,000 each - are decided by a lottery. When you compare this situation with the fact that licence plates for electric cars are free with no restrictions, perhaps it is no surprise to learn that “demand” for electric vehicles across China is increasing?
Is the Chinese electric car market false?
Looking at the current situation regarding non-electric vehicles in China you could argue that figures, showing a rise in electric car sales, are indeed offering something of a false market. However, while the Chinese authorities also offer an array of incentives, as their Western counterparts do, could this encouragement actually be proactive rather than underhand?
The simple fact is that the Chinese authorities, and all governments around the world, have invested literally billions of dollars into the electric vehicle market. As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, the market has now gone too far to fail, so rather than sit back and let the oil companies dictate the next move, you could argue the Chinese authorities are being proactive?
Is there really a difference between restricting the number of new registration plates to non-electric vehicles and offering free road tax to electric vehicles while increasing the charge on non-electric cars?
Should hybrids be included in the numbers?
There was also some debate in China as to whether the actual electric car sale figures are correct with many experts suggesting they include hybrids and what many Americans would class as neighbourhood electric vehicles. Perhaps the fact that the Chinese charging station network is as yet incomplete negates the positive impact from hybrid vehicles on the environment at this moment in time?
Then again, what is the point of building a large network of charging stations for electric/hybrid vehicles only to find there are insufficient vehicles on the road to make it worthwhile? There is a very different spread opinions across the Western world, with some countries encouraging take up of electric vehicles prior to creating charging networks while others had taken the opposite stance. In simple terms, a hybrid is a type of electric vehicle even if at this moment in time they may still be more dependent upon fossil fuels as opposed to electric.
In many ways the Chinese government cannot do right for doing wrong in relation to electric vehicles. After recently missing sales targets by a significant amount the government has taken a proactive stance but even this has been criticised by so-called “experts”. The simple fact is that consumers will need to be “encouraged” to take up electric vehicles en masse and whether this is by financial incentives or a change in regulations, favouring electric vehicles, is perhaps neither he nor there in the long-term?