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China sees a bright future for electric vehicles

Despite all the media focus on electric cars, their adoption in the U.S. and around the world can be considered halting at best. The much-hyped Nissan Leaf, for instance, sold only 9,819 units in 2012 – even Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn admitted that was a disappointment.

Yet Chinese companies have made a serious investment push behind EVs recently. Geely Automobile, Dongfeng Motors, and other Chinese automakers are in the process of bidding to take over Fisker, the maker of the electric Karma model. BYD, another Chinese automaker, plans to launch a new model, the Denza, in a joint venture with Daimler later this year.

Furthermore, the country’s Wanxiang Group has just received the go-ahead from the U.S. government to buy the bankrupt A123 Systems for $256 million. Before declaring bankruptcy, the company was a high-quality developer of electric car batteries, and it had received $133 in federal grants.

Meanwhile, the fortunes of electric cars elsewhere continue to be shaky. A recent, controversial New York Times test drive of Elon Musk’s highly touted Tesla Model S electric vehicle went sour when the car ran out of battery and had to be towed.

China has promised to get 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 – and it appears that the country’s automakers are betting that the government will keep its promise
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