Beijing – and in some ways, the whole of China – had set out to leapfrog conventional engine technology by developing and manufacturing huge amounts of electric vehicles. In particular, the city had hoped its push to develop plug-ins would give it an advantage over the West in electric vehicle technology. But hopes and dreams don't always jive with reality.
Plug-in vehicle sales in China have been poor and, even though no formal decision has been taken to abandon the nation's grand electric vehicle scheme, some higher-ups in Beijing are reportedly rethinking the policy. For example, The Globe and Mail reports:
Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, reflected intense debate within the bureaucracy recently when he published an article in a Communist Party journal questioning China's road map toward alternative powertrain vehicles.
Forbes presents a compelling story on this notion that China and its sole focus on electric vehicles don't mix. Here's a particularly striking excerpt:
Take Warren Buffett. In September 2008, the "Oracle of Omaha" took a 10-percent stake in BYD, the Shenzhen-based battery and vehicle maker, for $200 million. The move landed him on the cover of Fortune in 2009, inside the company's e6 model with the now-famous caption, "Warren Buffett hasn't just seen the car of the future, he's sitting in the driver's seat."