Editorial : Rapid Growth of China's New Energy Vehicle Industry

【明報專訊】NEW ENERGY CARS accounted for 50% of total vehicle sales on the mainland in the first half of April, causing a leading American electric vehicle manufacturer to announce price cuts across its entire lineup. At the same time, news of Europe and the US introducing measures to restrict the import of new energy vehicles from China has been incessant.

The latest figures released by the China Passenger Car Association show that sales of passenger cars across China reached 516,000 units in the first half of this month, of which new energy vehicles accounted for 50.39%. That was the first time new energy vehicles had made up over half of the market. Many International research organisations had predicted that new energy vehicles' market share in China would not exceed 50% until 2027, which turned out to be wide of the mark.

New energy vehicles' rise and overtaking of conventional fuel vehicles might have been due to the latter's poor sales. According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, car sales in the first quarter reached 6.72 million units, rising 10.6% year-on-year, with sales of new energy vehicles jumping by 31.8% year-on-year. In other words, car sales have increased in general, and it is just that new energy vehicles have grown even faster.

This set of sales data is better than expected. Last year, the new energy vehicle industry experienced a great leap to an output of 9.58 million units, a growth rate of 35.8%. This is attributable to the government's continuation of the stimulus policy of reduced or exempted purchase taxes. With the exhaustion and likely unsustainability of purchasing power, it is expected that things will not be so good this year. However, driven by a generally good start to the economy, sales have continued to be strong.

The exports of new energy vehicles have also become an achievement. 1.2 million vehicles were exported last year, an increase of 77%. Such a performance has led to restrictive measures internationally. The US does not import new energy vehicles directly from China. Mexico imported 410,000 new energy vehicles from China last year, but just over 100,000 became licensed and used in the country. It is surmised that the remainder were resold into the US through the North American Free Trade Area. This has attracted the attention of the US.

Recently, US Senator Sherrod Brown, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has suggested that a policy banning the import of Chinese electric vehicles should be introduced as soon as possible. No doubt the reason is again related to the US's national security and economic development. The restrictive measures will not affect the US itself merely, as the US government will pressurise Mexico into not providing preferential treatments for land or tax breaks to Chinese electric vehicle companies setting up factories in Mexico. The Mexican government will have no choice but to succumb to US pressure.

China accounted for one-fifth of the new energy vehicles sold in Europe last year. In October last year, the European Union (EU) began an investigation into whether China's subsidies to the electric vehicle industry threatened its counterpart in the EU. It announced interim results in early March this year, saying there was evidence that China did have a subsidy policy.

Concerning the direction of China's future industrial and technological development, the government should strengthen its financial support for scientific research and development. Be it university scientific research institutions, state-owned enterprises or private enterprises, they should all be given equal attention. The time is ripe for an adjustment for policies in this area.

明報社評2024.04.22:新能源汽車產業突飛猛進 經驗促政府調整科研政策









■/ Glossary 生字 /

wide of the mark : not accurate

surmise : to guess or suppose something using the evidence you have, without definitely knowing

ripe : ready or suitable for something to happen

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