Renewed goals still ambitious but not 'unachievable'
China's new 10-year new-energy vehicle development plan has more objective, practical goals than the one released in 2012, after NEV sales in the first quarter accounted for only 5 percent of this year's original target.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's latest plan said Chinese branded pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles should hit sales of more than 1 million units by 2020 and reach 3 million by 2025. The plan said exports should account for 10 percent of the sales.
The State Council's development plan issued in 2012 said the 2020 target for EVs and PHEVs was production of 2 million units and accumulated sales of 5 million units.
China originally aimed to sell 500,000 NEVs in 2015, however, just 26,581 EVs and PHEVs were sold in the first quarter of this year. Last year, 74,763 EV and PHEVs were sold, three times that of 2013.
EVs and PHEVs are the main categories of NEVs, which are powered by new energies rather than fossil fuels and include hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and solar energy vehicles.
Production of EVs and PHEVs is in full swing, while vehicles that use other energy sources are still in the testing stage.
Hubertus Troska, member of the board of management of Daimler AG responsible for Greater China, said: "China has the best regulation and strongest push to support NEV policies in the world. I think China has the vision and the potential to become the biggest NEV market in the world because we have more big cities in this country than anywhere else. NEVs are perfectly suited to inner city traffic, not so much for long distance."
The new plan said Chinese brands should take a more than 70 percent share of the domestic EV and PHEV market by 2020, and by 2025 the share should exceed 80 percent.
Under the plan, China will aim to have domestic EV and PHEV models with sales ranking in the global top 10 by 2020, and have two carmakers' sales rank in the global top 10 by 2025.
The target for overseas sales is that they should contribute 10 percent of total sales.
Economist Intelligence Unit's Managing Editor Ana Nicholls said: "The target of one million EVs and PHEVs by 2020 is an ambitious one, but unlike previous NEV targets, it is not unachievable, given enough political will and support."
The Chinese government's latest move to support the market was a renewed tax-exemption policy for new-energy vehicles, announced this month.
Beijing decided that from June pure electric cars would not be included in its policy banning cars from hitting the road one workday a week, based on the last digit of the license plate. The city's NEV plate quota will double to 60,000 next year.
Nicholls said, "If China is going to achieve its goal, then it will probably be mainly through local carmakers, which are already responding to demands to focus their investment on NEVs.
"That may require them to scale back ambitions elsewhere, such as international expansion, but they should benefit by securing market dominance and perhaps a long-term global advantage in a key industry."
BAIC Motor's EV arm, Beijing Electric Vehicle Co, or BAIC BJEV, said it plans to achieve large production capacity and high sales volumes by 2020 to stay in the No 1 position in China's pure electric car market.
Chongqing Changan New Energy Automobile Co, Changan Automobile's NEV arm, plans to launch 27 EV models by 2025.
Last year, the government said it would issue 20,000 NEV license plates in Beijing, however, only 6,000 cars were registered, with the other plates left unwanted.
To make China's new-energy ambitions a reality, automakers are attempting to cultivate a NEV market, in which customers' concerns, including charging accessibility and electric driving mileage range, are currently leading to low sales.
The ministry and companies have started to encourage people to try NEVs at a low cost, in the hope they will like them and buy one in the future.
MIIT started a NEV time-share rental pilot program this month, and Minister Miao Wei encouraged the idea of opening a site for the project in Beijing airport as soon as possible.
In March, Sino-German joint venture BMW Brilliance teamed up with eHi Car Services Ltd, a car-rental company, to make its pure electric car ZINORO 1E available for rent in eHi's Beijing network.
Last year, BMW Brilliance started offering the 1E for daily and long-term rentals to meet the different requirements of its customers and installed charging posts at users' homes.
The company has gradually built up its public charging network in Beijing and Shanghai.
BMW Brilliance's Senior Vice-President for Marketing Jochen Goller said: "Electric mobility is one of the hottest topics in the automotive industry and everyone is talking about it. But at the end of the day, is also not only talking about it, it is about bringing e-mobility into action."
According to Goller, charging infrastructure and customers who fully understand what e-mobility is are two important aspects to make e-mobility work.