While electric cars haven’t caught on in China, a partnership between ABB and Denza wants to build the world’s largest EV charging network. But there’s still the matter of, you know, selling electric cars.
Switzerland’s ABB is teaming up with the Shenzhen Daimler New Technology Company, better known as Denza, to build what it claims will be the world’s largest EV charging network over the next six years. The network will support what is hopefully the first steps towards an electric car-driving majority.
China has laid out ambitious plans to get 1.5 million EVs on its roads by 2020, and they need to do it more than any other country. Epic levels of smog have reduced visibility to just a few feet in many of China’s most-populated cities, though consumers have been reluctant to buy even heavily-subsidized EVs.
That’s because China’s EV charging network, or lack thereof, makes planning a trip via EV all but impossible. Many of China’s early electric cars are also little more than glorified go-karts in a country that puts a high priority on material prestige. That said, Denza is a 50:50 venture between Mercedes-owner Daimler AG and Warren Buffet-backed BYD, so there’s plenty of money, luxury, and technology available to the next wave of Chinese EVs.
Denza dealerships will not only install fast chargers on many lots, but will also sell fast chargers for home use. Then, working from urban areas out, Denza will build a larger charging network across most of China, eventually building what may be the world’s largest charging network. They won’t be alone either; sales of the Tesla Model S have begun in earnest in China, and you can bet the first steps towards a national Supercharger network are on the way.
Could China really become a leader in electric vehicles despite this slow start? For you doubters, just keep in mind that it took less than a decade for China to build the largest high-speed rail network in the world. In other words, I wouldn’t put it past them.