China's new energy vehicles are reshaping the global automotive landscape
Editor's note: Zhang Ying is an associate researcher at the Research Institute for Eco-Civilization, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
Promoting the transformation of the automotive industry by adopting clean, low-carbon alternative fuels for vehicles is crucial for China to achieve major national strategic objectives, such as ensuring energy security, addressing climate change, and controlling pollutant emissions. The Chinese government, with foresight, seized the development opportunity of the industry. It has implemented a raft of measures to support the development of new energy vehicles (NEV) and foster the world's largest NEV market, including the launch of the "863 Key Technology and System Integration Project for Electric Vehicles" and the "Ten Cities, Thousand NEV" program, as well as the introduction of various subsidy policies.
Thanks to the policy support, increasing consumer acceptance, and improving infrastructure, China's NEV production, sales, and ownership have ranked first in the world for eight consecutive years. In 2022, China's production and sales of NEV stood at 7.06 million and 6.89 million respectively, recording a year-on-year growth of 96.9 percent and 93.4 percent. The penetration rate of NEV reached 25.6 percent.
In the rapid development process of NEV, China has basically established an independently controllable supply chain system and formed a strong international competitive advantage in various links of the industrial chain. Chinese companies account for three of the top ten global NEV companies, and six of the top ten enterprises in terms of installed capacity of power batteries. China has already become the world's largest producer of lithium batteries, with several enterprises like CATL and BYD occupying pivotal positions in the global battery market. This has not only provided support to China's NEV manufacturing industry, but has also profoundly impacted the global NEV battery supply chain.
Ever since the state began to encourage the development of the NEV industry, China has made significant progress in core technologies such as electric drive and onboard system control through technology introduction, independent research and development, cooperation and exchanges. Breakthroughs have been achieved in key areas such as permanent magnet synchronous motors and AC asynchronous motors. Some leading companies can already independently develop high-quality electric control systems. In addition to independent research and development (R&D) by domestic NEV manufacturers, a group of Chinese tech giants, including Huawei, Baidu, and Tencent, have also invested heavily in the R&D of autonomous driving technology. Through the integration of advanced sensors, controllers, and algorithms, Chinese NEV companies like BYD, NIO, Xpeng, Li Auto, and Geely have launched models with rich intelligent features, enhancing driving safety and convenience.
The development of China's NEV industry has guided the R&D of global automakers and profoundly changed the structure of the global automotive industry. Many international automotive brands, seeing the potential of the Chinese market, have accelerated R&D and promotion of NEVs. China's technological breakthroughs in various production links of NEV have also boosted technological innovation in the global automotive industry. With the evolution of NEV technology, traditional automotive supply chain is undergoing significant changes. In this process, a number of NEV startups like NIO, Xpeng, and Li Auto, have emerged in China. They have demonstrated vitality and creativity in terms of technology innovation, market strategy, and user experience.
Chinese-made NEVs have developed rapidly and found favor with the overseas market alongside lithium batteries and solar cells. The sector has become a new pillar industry driving China's exports and economic growth, showcasing the results of China's efforts to boost both the efficiency and quality of economic growth and representing the direction of the country’s economic transformation.