The air pollution in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing reaches new record levels at regular intervals, and not infrequently lies at double the figures considered as dangerous to health. The motivation to ban vehicles running on petrol and diesel from major Chinese cities, is therefore self-evident. And China is indeed leaving the European car industry behind — not only with regard to political ambitions but also with ever newer, ever better models.
The smart EP 9 sports car from NIO has recently been unveiled which is challenging the hitherto undisputed number 1 Tesla by setting speed records at the Nürburgring. Now its family-friendly sister Eve is being presented, suitable for everyday life. China has been outpacing Europe for some time and the gap is getting bigger. Sales of electric cars last year grew by 62 percent — reaching a total of 336,000 cars sold. By way of comparison: 148,000 cars with electric drives or plug-in hybrids were registered in the EU, 4.8 percent more than in the previous year. Tentative growth that even purchase bonuses are apparently unable to increase significantly. Germany has even reported a decline in new registrations of purely electric cars: 7.7 percent fewer than in the previous year. What's missing are the promised models with a longer range, but they will not reach the market until 2018 at the earliest.
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2016 was the mental tipping point
In China, on the other hand, many major cities are registering electric vehicles only, due to the smog, and there are extensive state subsidies. There is also a new quota system that requires manufacturers to produce at least 8 percent of their vehicles as e-cars by 2018 and 12 percent by 2020.
Nevertheless, the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) in Bergisch Gladbach is in a confident mood in issuing its global forecast: 2016 marks the mental tipping point for the conquest of electromobility", says the Center's manager Stefan Bratzel. Growth will continue at a low level for a further one or two years and pick up pace from 2020, he explains.