China Auto Show

The goal of the plan is to have five million EVs on the roads by the end of 2020.

China is already the world's largest manufacturer of electric bicycles and electric tricycles, but no less than 13 automobile manufacturers in China offered 18 different models of electric automobiles in 2013.

Two years ago, on June 28, 2012 the China State Council passed the New Energy Automobile Industry Development Plan for 2012 to 2020. The goal of the plan? To have 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of 2015 and five-million electric vehicles on the roads by the end of 2020. Yet in 2013, Chinese automobile manufacturers sold just 6,900 highway-speed electric passenger automobiles and 1,247 plug-in hybrid automobiles. (We've got detailed lists available below). This number doesn't include electric buses, which will play a big role in electric vehicle growth in China, but if sales numbers for passenger automobiles continue in this manner, China's 2015 half-million EV goal will be very difficult to achieve.

For eight-and-a-half months during 2013, there were no national subsidies to promote electric vehicle sales in China, so on some level, China's 2013 sales are not that bad, considering. On September 13, 2013 China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MII) announced substantial government subsidies to spur the sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles in China. The new government subsidies are based on vehicle range and are only available to domestic automobile brands.
  • EV Range over 250 kilometers CN¥60,000 ($9,456 US)
  • EV Range between 150 km and 250 km CN¥50,000 ($8,130)
  • EV Range between 80 km and 150 km CN¥35,000 ($5,691)
  • PHEV Range over 50 km CN¥35,000 ($5,691)
China is one of the few countries in the world which continues to rely on central government planning to regulate industrial growth, and promotions of government officials are directly tied to performance based on those plans. According to the MII's announcement, major cities should implement policies to put 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end 2015, while other cities in the program should put more than 5,000 EVs on the road. By the end of 2013, forty cities had signed up for this program. Promotion opportunities for government officials who miss these targets will be very limited.


China Auto Show

To make sure they meet their goals, many cities around China have implemented local incentives in addition to the national subsidies to promote electric vehicles in their cities:
  • Beijing: Same as national subsidy + free license plate
  • Shanghai: CN¥40,000 ($6,504) + free license plate (a CN¥70,000 [$11,382] value)
  • Guangzhou: CN¥10,000 ($1,626) + free license plate
  • Shenzhen: Same as national subsidy
  • Hangzhou: Same as national subsidy
  • Hefei: CN¥20,000 ($3,252)
  • Changchun: CN¥35,000 ($5,691) to CN¥45,000 ($7,317)
Those numbers are all added to the national subsidy. Why have these cities been so quick to offer follow-on subsidies? Because they are all home to major automobile manufacturers: their local manufacturers stand to benefit handsomely from the government subsidies. So China's MII tacked on a requirement that at least 30 percent of EV sales in any city must comprise automobile brands manufactured in other cities. By contrast, foreign EVs – like, say, Tesla – get zero central government subsidies.

Foreign EVs get zero central government subsidies.

At the end of the day, a consumer in China can get a subsidy valued up to $19,500 toward the purchase of their brand-new electric vehicle. That's not a tax deduction available only to the rich, that's a cash discount off the standard retail price available to anybody.

Who is the largest electric automobile manufacturer in China? No, it's not BYD. It's JAC. Jianghuai Automobile Company based in Hefei, Anhui province is already on their fifth-generation EV set to launch later this year. JAC electric vehicles sell for as little as $12,000 after government subsidies. Last year, JAC sold 2,693 of their Gen 3 and Gen 4 EVs combined. That's not not quite as much as Tesla in 2013, but it is more than Tesla in 2012.

How are EV sales looking across China? Well, sales figures for electric vehicle sales in China are particularly hard to come by, because the industry is just starting to blossom. So we did some digging, and you can see the results below. The numbers came directly from the manufacturers, often from the CEO directly. They don't match the Chinese EV sales numbers found on sites like China Auto Web because those numbers include all electric vehicles, which includes buses. The numbers here include only passenger cars.



It will be most interesting to compare these to the numbers at the end of 2014.

Charlie Paglee is the CEO of Brannan Auto, an American automotive component engineering and manufacturing company focused on China, specifically on the electric vehicle industry. Mr. Paglee has more than two decades of business experience in China and speaks fluent Chinese Mandarin. Mr. Paglee is an electrical engineer who started working with electric vehicles in 1991. Mr. Paglee was the Vice President of China for Fisker Automotive and prior to that, he was Employee Number 5 at Aptera Motors.