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The Reality Of Electric Cars In China

Everyone is excited about the potential for electric cars in China — except the companies actually making cars in China!

At the Detroit Auto Show in January of this year, Tesla announced its plans to open a dealership in Beijing — its first store in China. George Blankenship, the company’s vice president of worldwide sales, said the store will house an 8,000-square-foot facility, much larger than its U.S. stores, which typically have 2,500 to 3,000 square feet of floor space. “The China market is incredibly important to us,” Blankenship said. “We think our timing is perfect.”

At the Shanghai Auto Show in April, Detroit Electric, the rejuvenated automaker aiming to build a line of limited electric sports cars, announced that it had teamed up with China-based Geely Automobile Group to develop electric vehicles and related motors and drive trains for the Chinese market.

Like Tesla and Detroit Electric, many officials in the Chinese government would also like to see more electric vehicles in China. Much has been made out of the fact that Wan Gang, China’s Minister of Science and Technology who has championed the research and development of new energy vehicles for decades, promoted the new industry during this year’s annual legislative session. To show his support for electric vehicles, Wan abandoned his official sedan and took a small electric car instead as a commuter vehicle. The silver electric vehicle, with a slogan “zero-pollution, zero-emission” posted on the car body, carried Wan back and forth between the conference venue, his office and the media center.

From outside China looking in, it seems quite logical that China should embrace electric vehicles. Major cities like Beijing are struggling under crippling air pollution, and Beijing is only the 17th-most polluted city in the country. China also is importing oil, and energy demand continues to grow. Anything that can be done to reduce oil consumption ought to gain traction, it is thought. Finally, periodic statements by high ranking officials like Wan seem to demonstrate a high degree of government support for the electric vehicle industry.


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