[Above}   The Citroen C5 Aircross concept car is presented during an event ahead of the 17th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in Shanghai. Photo: AFP

China’s auto industry is charging ahead with aggressive plans to electrify cars even as policymakers scale back subsidies aimed at building sales from relatively low levels and consider tapping the brakes on sales quotas for plug-in cars.

Automakers and government officials have been bargaining over China’s electric vehicle policy for years.

In the latest draft policy released in September, Beijing proposed a requirement that they generate credits equivalent to 8 per cent of automakers’ sales next year by selling battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, rising to 10 per cent in 2019 and 12 per cent in 2020. More recently, the government has indicated that timetable could slip.

The GLM Co. Tommykaira ZZ EV electric sports car, right, and the chassis and drive system of the Tommykaira ZZ stand on display during a media briefing in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. GLM, the Kyoto-based automaker, is planning to sell the G4 concept electric vehicle (EV) with a price of 40 million yen ($367,000) in 2019. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Whatever target the government sets, automakers would have little choice but to comply. China is the world’s biggest auto market by far, and growth is set to continue this year, albeit at a slower 5 per cent, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

That is why even as automakers fight electric vehicle mandates in the United States, they are scrambling to develop more plug-in electric hybrids and electric battery cars for China.

The Buick Velite 5, an extended range electric hybrid, on display at a global launch event ahead of the Shanghai Auto 2017 show. Photo: AP

NEW MODELS

Ford, for example, says that by 2018 it will launch in China a plug-in hybrid sedan called the Mondeo Energi, a version of the low-volume Ford Fusion Energi offered in the United States. It also plans to bring an all-electric sport-utility vehicle to China over the next five years.

General Motors Co, one of the largest automakers in the Chinese market, plans to launch at least 10 NEVs by 2020. To support the growth of its NEV line-up, GM has built a battery assembly plant in Shanghai which should be ready to deliver battery packs next year.

This electric luxury car lets you snooze while it zooms

Volkswagen plans to have 13 additional NEVs by 2020 based on its current generation of technology, following on plug-in hybrid versions of the Phideon sedan, due to be unveiled later on Tuesday, and the Audi A6L sedan. The VW brand aims to further launch 10 electric vehicles between 2020 and 2025.

The German manufacturer also hopes to form a joint venture just for NEVs with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC) , and any models from that partnership would be on top of those plans, a spokesman told Reuters. VW said in January the first VW-JAC car could be produced next year.

A worker assembles an e-Golf electric car at the production line of the Transparent Factory of Volkswagen in Dresden, Germany, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

 

China’s drive for electric vehicles, driven in part to combat often suffocating urban smog, has put pressure on Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp to re-think its earlier scepticism about battery-electric technology. Toyota has said it will locally build plug-in hybrids and sell them in China, starting in 2018, although it has not said when all-electric car models would hit Chinese showrooms.

To be sure, even as automakers renew commitments to produce more NEVs, it’s not clear how aggressively they would push those cars in the marketplace.

A Toyota Motor Corp. Mirai fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) stands on display at the automaker’s event on the sidelines of the Shanghai Auto Show in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Toyota is bringing its Mirai fuel-cell vehicle to China as it strives to protect its lead in the technology amid challenges from Hyundai Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

 

“All automakers in China are still trying to understand the implications of the more stringent fuel efficiency regulations and whether to increase production of qualifying NEVs or purchase NEV credits from other automakers, including their partners,” said James Chao, Shanghai-based Asia-Pacific chief of consulting firm IHS Markit Automotive.

 

 

 

 

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