Chinese automakers have a strategic reason to move quickly toward electric cars: the legacy car companies in North America, Europe and Japan haven’t yet mastered the technology. According to a new forecast from research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, that’s part of why China-based Chery, […]

Chinese automakers have a strategic reason to move quickly toward electric cars: the legacy car companies in North America, Europe and Japan haven’t yet mastered the technology. According to a new forecast from research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, that’s part of why China-based Chery, Geely, SAIC and Changan all unveiled alternative fuel cars at the International Auto Exhibition in China last month, and it’s a major factor in the country’s move toward electric vehicles. By moving early and fast, China could dominate the emerging EV market — not just in its own potentially $220 billion market (the size McKinsey expects China’s car market to reach by 2030), but also abroad. prius-china

China’s automakers aren’t waiting around for the dawn of an all-electric age, which will require a massive infrastructure buildout (for charging) and consumer education, Frost & Sullivan’s researchers note. They said in an announcement today that hybrid cars will be truly mass-market in China by 2011 or 2012, and that the country’s fleet will begin a minimum 10-year transition to plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles as early as next year.

Already, the country’s domestic automakers have invested in hybrid technology, introducing more than 20 hybrid vehicles this year at the Shanghai auto show. So today’s hybrid giants — Toyota and Honda — and certainly Detroit’s Big Three can count on plenty of competition. As BYD Auto investor and adviser Li Lu said during a roundtable discussion at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference last month, “We’ve been growing 100 percent for the last five to six years, and I have no reason to believe we will stop.”

The Chinese government, meanwhile, has thrown its weight behind electric vehicles, aiming to make it the world’s leading producer of EVs and eventually also electric buses. The Renault-Nissan Alliance, planning to roll out electric cars (and charging infrastructure) as part of a pilot project in central China’s Wuhan by 2011, will be near the front of the line of foreign-based automakers angling to benefit from government incentives such as hefty subsidies for EV buyers.

Long term, Frost & Sullivan expects China’s roads to be dominated by fuel cell vehicles. But it has a big caveat. “Globally, fuel cell cars have been hyped as the best solution for over ten years, now,” the firm said in a release this morning. “Ten years ago the engineers said it would be ‘ten years’ before the technology is practical for use.” Still waiting.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Hong Kong dear Edward

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  1. Why would any of the conclusions in the report be accepted as credible when they end up picking fuel cells as the winner?
    Yet another braindead ‘consultant’ report masquerading as a fortune teller!

  2. The Green Leap Forward 绿跃进 » Green Hops: New Renewable Energy Targets, More Carbon Tax Chatter, Singapore-Nanjing Eco-city Announced Thursday, May 7, 2009

    [...] China wants 500,000 “new energy” vehicles (hybrids, electric vehicles, etc.) to be produced this year and is implementing a $1.5 billion research subsidy plan over the next three years for automakers to improve their electric-vehicle technology.  This piece highlights the efforts of BYD, Chery, SAIC, FAW, Beiqin Foton, Harbin Hafei, Geely, Volkswagen,GM, Toyota and Nissan in the new energy vehicle space.  Zhejiang Wanxing Group is the latest player to the EV race.  The Renault-Nissan alliance, which is partnered with Better Place in various electric vehicle network projects around the world, plans to sell electric cars as early as 2011 and help develop an EV-charging network in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province.  BYD Auto has helped the local government of Shenzhen set up twenty 220-volt charging pillars in office and residential areas.  An interesting U.S.-based startup, Adura Systems, plans to sell modular series hybrid powertrains for buses in China. market. Frost & Sullivan estimates that China’s transition to electric vehicles will take a minimum of ten years. [...]

  3. Hugh E Webber Thursday, May 7, 2009

    I’m looking forward to buying a Chinese-built highway-capable EV for $15,000 in 2012 in Florida.

    Fool cells? They’re the cars of the future (first prototyped in 1966,) and always will be!

  4. 3 Reasons Why China Will Dominate Electric Vehicles « billallred.net Sunday, May 10, 2009

    [...] China will reach sufficiently high volume before other countries. According to earth2tech, China plans to convert to (mostly) electric within the next 10 years. If they are able to do that, [...]

  5. It is a great innovation out there in China, instead of gas, it turned out to be electric. That could save their money as well.

  6. Why Volkswagen Wants BYD in Its Battery Mix Thursday, May 28, 2009

    [...] vehicle market with an eye on China. As we noted earlier this month, Frost & Sullivan analysts expect cars in China to go mostly electric within a decade — a trend driven partly by government incentives and Chinese automakers [...]

  7. China to Lead Electric Car Charging Boom by 2015 Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    [...] push by the Chinese government to achieve country-wide mass adoption of electric vehicles. As we’ve written before, there’s a strategic reason for Chinese automakers to go electric: legacy car companies [...]

  8. How to Break Into Electric Vehicle Tech: Go Where the Customers Are Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    [...] motors, and potentially with electric vehicles in general, Ferber says that means going to Asia. As we’ve noted before, companies that move early and fast to dominate the EV market in China, for example, which has [...]

  9. waltinseattle Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Oh, but just look at how China generates electricity. What is the rate they are building plants? Is it one a day, or some horrendous figure in any case. They are all coal fired plants, and many of them get permitted by bribes, not by design review, inspection etcetcetc. Clean streets, dirty country.

    We need to send some cleantech engineers over and get China motivated to play real leaders.

  10. Battery Startup Farasis Energy Closes In On Production Thursday, August 27, 2009

    [...] in China, the strategy puts these companies at the forefront of what’s shaping up to be a powerhouse EV market. China has growing demand for autos in general, but also new government support for electric [...]

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