Hardly any other country in the world has developed as rapidly as China. Today, the People’s Republic has a population of more than 1.4 billion. Its total economic output for 2018 is likely to exceed USD 14 trillion. In megacities such as Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin, mighty skyscrapers point heavenwards and neon-lit billboards line endlessly congested streets. Those who can afford to drive, do so – despite the fact that city traffic regularly comes to a standstill during rush hour. As well as the biggest automobile market in the world, China is now also the leading market for alternative drive systems. When it comes to e-mobility, the country has its foot right down on the throttle, driven not only by a determination to establish itself at the forefront of new technology but also by the pressing need to cut air pollution. Over 40 % of all the electric vehicles produced around the world are destined for China. Worldwide, 17 of the 25 cities with the highest concentration of electric cars are in China. In Shanghai alone, there are more than 160,000 – over 5 % of the entire global fleet of electric vehicles.
The figures are no coincidence. China was one of the first countries to recognize the potential of electrification to shape the future of mobility. The Chinese government wants to transform the country – once viewed as the workshop of the world – into a high-tech superpower. To this end, it has launched a new industrial strategy under the slogan “Made in China 2025,” with the goal of leading the world in ten key sectors of the “future economy.” The strategy defines automotive systems as a core technology. The focus of attention here is on low-emission drives.
“The Chinese government is investing massively in efforts to promote alternative drive technologies,” explains Humphrey Chen, General Manager at ElringKlinger in China. “Generous incentives are available to encourage people to buy electric vehicles.” If you buy a car with an alternative drive, you are eligible for a subsidy, depending on the car’s range, of between 22,000 Chinese renminbi (CNY) for plug-in hybrids (around EUR 2,700) and CNY 50,000 (around EUR 6,000) for pure electrics. New cars with fuel cell drives qualify for an even bigger subsidy – up to CNY 200,000 (around EUR 25,000). The incentive for commercial vehicles is higher still because they are more expensive – CNY 100,000 (around EUR 12,000) for battery-electric trucks and an impressive CNY 500,000 (around EUR 60,000) for hydrogen-powered trucks. In addition to providing a subsidy to new buyers, the administration offers a host of other benefits for electric vehicle drivers. In many cities, they are granted an immediate registration certificate. In some cases, you might have to wait months to register a car with a standard combustion engine. What’s more, in many places, you can park your electric car free of charge, and the recharging infrastructure is being expanded rapidly.