Get ready for a massive race to electrify the world

ITV Car Share: Car makers have already begun to roll out cheap, easy-to-use battery electric cars in Britain, Germany and Spain. Will these global car makers profit? The rapid growth of China’s electric car…

Get ready for a massive race to electrify the world

ITV Car Share: Car makers have already begun to roll out cheap, easy-to-use battery electric cars in Britain, Germany and Spain. Will these global car makers profit?

The rapid growth of China’s electric car industry is raising the possibility that it will revolutionize auto-buying worldwide in coming years, from high-end European cars to run on compressed natural gas to poor versions of cheap Chinese ones.

In China, electric cars have found a powerful and unwavering backer in the world’s biggest car buyer. China has committed billions to build hundreds of thousands of “mainstream” electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the coming years.

For European car makers, China’s slow and steady launch of electric cars is shaping up to be a major challenge. The general proposition is that, once China becomes the global leader in electric vehicles, an oversupply of electric cars is destined to form at global car dealerships.

“Right now, China is just getting off the ground,” said Alex Yuan, director of researcher EVK Group. “But if it becomes a dominant figure then the same dynamics would kick in. So we will be forced to do conversions.”

Volkswagen bought out Beijing-based electric car maker NOBE and plans to turn this into the group’s global electric vehicle unit. However, Chinese electric cars remain quite simple compared with models now sold around the world, experts say.

“The investment in electric vehicles and the resulting learning curve are mainly in the development and design of vehicles such as conventional hybrids and high-performance plug-in hybrids. We are being targeted with a weak proposition,” said Thomas Sedran, president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Weng Wei, the general manager of Volvo’s China unit, told the Financial Times earlier this year that electric cars offered little longer-term benefit and called for the industry to focus on greener technologies.

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