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China Adapts Its Electric Vehicle Plans to Challenging Realities

EV charging stations ring the offices of the Shanghai International Auto City, an expo for car manufacturing and research. But no electric cars are plugged in.

Four years ago, China boldly announced it would produce 500,000 “New Energy Vehicles” annually and that sales would account for five percent of total passenger car sales. New Energy Vehicles in China include plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Making lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles turned out to be more difficult than making mobile phone batteries. China’s government is not blind to the fact its initial goal was unachievable.

The most recent policy, issued in September 2013, called for 10,000 New Energy Vehicle to be sold in each of Chia’s megacities by 2015. For smaller cities, the sales goal was 5,000 cars. Despite the downshifting of EV sales targets, China’s central government hasn’t abandoned its dream of being an EV—or rather a New Energy Vehicle—powerhouse. It has merely adapted. My visit to China this month illustrated that. \


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