SHANGHAI — Even for a person like me who covers China’s auto industry on a daily basis, I can’t help feeling amazed at how fast the government is moving to encourage development of “green” cars.
Late last year, the Chinese government was still unsure which powertrain technology to support to help domestic automakers leapfrog the international competition.
But this year, it chose to subsidize plug-in hybrids and “pure” EVs, then quickly mobilized all its resources to prepare the country for the age of the electric vehicles.
And all these decisions have taken place in little more than a month.
On May 31, the central government announced a pilot subsidy program for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.
The state will provide a maximum subsidy of 50,000 yuan ($7,386) for plug-in vehicles and 60,000 yuan ($8,863) for pure electric vehicles purchased in five cities.
On July 6, officials from three ministries and the nation’s highest economic planning agency flew to Shenzhen to declare the launch of the pilot subsidy program.
The message to auto executives was clear. The government was united; there would be no more debate.
That same day, Shenzhen’s city government announced plans to provide up to 30,000 yuan for plug-in purchasers and up to 60,000 yuan for EV buyers. Those funds were in addition to Beijing’s subsidies – a major boost for BYD Co., which is headquartered in Shenzhen.
The other four cities in the pilot program soon disclose how much they will contribute.
If this doesn’t sound fast enough to you, there’s more: The central government has assigned China’s two electric utilities, three largest oil companies and major electrical equipment makers to build EV charging stations across the country.
These state-owned companies also are helping to draft technical standards for battery charging stations. And what is their deadline for the new standards? It is the end of this year, according to official media.
The Beijing government is running – not walking – to keep pace with the auto industry.