China has not been shy or conservative when it comes to their electric vehicle ambitions, hoping to put a half-million EVs on its road in a few short years. One of the major obstacles to this EV plan though is a lack of public charging infrastructure, though a $16 billion government plan should help out immensely.
Bloomberg reports that the Chinese government wants to invest some $16 billion into a nationwide EV charging program. The plan will soon be publicly announced with the hopes of boosting EV sales.
So far generous tax incentives and the ability to skip the license plate lottery system has helped EV sales grow rapidly, with 50,000 “new energy” vehicles expected to be sold by the end of 2014. Domestic Chinese companies like BYD and foreign automakers like BMW and Tesla are getting in on the ground floor of this EV revolution, though incentives matter little if there’s no place to plug in.
Daimler and BYD have joined forces with ABB to build what they claim will be the world’s largest EV charging network, and the government may aid substantially in its building. China is already the world’s largest car market, and with it wholly embracing electrified vehicles as a way to reduce the cataclysmic levels of smog choking their cities, the auto industry will follow the money. China is also making an effort to junk the oldest and dirtiest vehicles on its roads, at least 5 million by last count. That should help clean the air up.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has rolled out a number of smaller local, state, and federal incentives that have helped install thousands of EV chargers across the country. Despite this, EV sales have yet to have a major breakthrough, due in part to a divided and uncoordinated approach to setting up charging networks and incentives.
As China races to embrace electric cars, America is still taking baby steps towards electrification; which economy will come out on top in the race to adopt electric cars?
Right now, my money’s with China.