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February 21, 2019

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‘Huge’ potential for China, US on electric vehicles

The potential for the United States and China to deepen collaboration in the booming electric vehicle industry is significant, experts say.

“China and the United States are the world’s two largest EV markets,” said David Sandalow, an inaugural fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

“Both countries can benefit by trading with each other and learning from each other.”

Sales of EVs have been ramping up in recent years and the market will continue to grow for a range of reasons, according to some experts.

Compared with conventional vehicles, EVs help to reduce local air pollution, global warming and the vulnerability some countries experience due to the volatility of the oil market, said Sandalow, who has served in senior positions at the White House, State Department and the US Department of Energy.

“There’s a steady market shift toward electric vehicles ... in both the United States and China, sales grew very significantly last year and in prior years, in many European countries as well,” he added.

China is the world’s largest EV market, with sales of new energy vehicles soaring 61.74 percent year on year to 1.26 million units in 2018.

In 2030, China’s EVs will reach 100 million while the power of the vehicle battery will exceed 1 billion kilowatts, according to Shirley Cheng, president of China State Grid’s US representative office.

Experts said a slew of sound policies and measures are also among the major reasons behind a possible explosive growth of the Chinese EV market.

“The Chinese government has been committed to EV deployment for many years now with a variety of incentive programs, as both central and provincial governments have been committed to deploying EVs,” said Sandalow, also co-author of a report on EV charging in China and the United States.

One of the biggest barriers to the deployment of EVs is the concern among drivers about public charging infrastructure.

Some observers described it as “the chicken and egg problem,” meaning that charging stations are needed in order for there to electric vehicle sales and vice versa.

“It’s a logical place for governments and policies to step in, in order to promote the benefits of EVs,” said Sandalow.

Key stakeholders including governments, industrial alliances and grid companies have an important role to play in the promising industry, experts say.

Global automakers, led by Germany’s Volkswagen AG, are planning a remarkable increase of US$300 billion in spending for planned EV investment and procurement over the next five to 10 years, with nearly half of the money targeted at China,.

The Chinese market is very lucrative, attracting many US businesses, said Sandalow, citing US EV giant Tesla’s expansion into China.

Tesla’s Shanghai factory has broken ground, and the company also confirmed that it would bring “portions of Model 3 production” to China.

China has also incorporated the electric vehicle industry into its long-term planning.

“The US government can learn a lot from China in that regard,” he said

The US system for developing charging stations is more market-based, and maybe China could learn from that, he added.

“The potential for bilateral collaboration is great and I hope the two countries can realize that potential,” he said.


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