If there's one thing that's never lost in translation, it's the concept of status.

That's what Pike Research deduced when it estimated that China's plug-in vehicle sales would fall far short of governmental goals during the next few years. In an upcoming report called "Electric Vehicles in China," Pike figures Chinese consumers will boost purchases of battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids by 60 percent a year through 2017, by which time more than 152,000 plug-ins will be sold in China annually.

That's all fine and good, except the Chinese government was shooting for a half-million plug-ins being produced a year by 2015. By comparison, Pike Research estimated last week that cumulative U.S. plug-in sales would total about 410,000 units between 2011 and 2015.

Part of the problem in China is the lack of infrastructure for widespread vehicle-charging opportunities and little standardization. But Pike Research says that, as more Chinese enter the middle class, many will choose to buy U.S.- and European-made sedans over Chinese EVs because they make better status symbols.
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More than 152,000 Plug-in Electric Vehicles Will be Sold Annually in China by 2017, Falling Short of Government Targets, Forecasts Pike Research

BOULDER, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--China is now the world's largest automotive market. The Chinese government has made vehicle electrification central to its aggressive plan for growing the automotive market both domestically and internationally and has created many national and local incentives for plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) purchases. According to a new report from Pike Research, however, PEV production will fall well short of the government's ambitious goals of manufacturing 500,000 PEVs a year by 2015. The PEV market in China will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60% from 2012 to 2017, surpassing 152,000 units sold annually by 2017. However, that figure represents less than 1% of the total light duty vehicle market in China.

"Many members of the emerging middle and upper classes prefer imported vehicles with nameplates from the United States or Germany – especially larger sedans in which owners can sit comfortably while their drivers navigate China's often congested roads."
"The Chinese government initially overestimated consumer demand for electric vehicles, and has made adjustments to its incentive policies," says research director John Gartner. "Many members of the emerging middle and upper classes prefer imported vehicles with nameplates from the United States or Germany – especially larger sedans in which owners can sit comfortably while their drivers navigate China's often congested roads."

Specifically, China is adjusting its program away from battery electric vehicles to be more inclusive of hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Still, the government will find it difficult to implement its policies, Gartner says. The country's fragmented regional governments and the close relationships between local governments and local vehicle manufacturers have created problems in implementation, especially for vehicle and technology standardization. Competing interests, such as companies producing vehicles with proprietary technologies, have already delayed the release of China's Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan (2011-2020), making it difficult for companies to plan their investment in EV production and infrastructure. Nevertheless, China's EV ambitions will provide a huge boost to electric car development worldwide in the long run.

Pike Research's report, "Electric Vehicles in China", outlines the market opportunities and challenges for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles in China, and provides an examination of EV battery and charging infrastructure trends in the world's largest automotive market. The report analyzes government initiatives and policy trends, technology and standards issues, and key industry players in China. Detailed market forecasts for each vehicle category, as well as for EV batteries and EV supply equipment installations, extend through 2017. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm's website.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. The company's research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Grid, Smart Transportation, Smart Industry, and Smart Buildings sectors. For more information, visit www.pikeresearch.com or call +1.303.997.7609.


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  • 30 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not a big fan of Pike Research. But all research, especially of this type, is not meant to be infallible! Research and analysis are only tools, or input to help analysts formulate policy. Much like Weather Forecasts! Research reports, opinion polls, etc are not a substitute for thinking ! To often the person or organization commissioning the research defines the objectives (not always intentionally )in such a way as to validate an existing policy or belief. Examination of the methodology behind the conduct of the poll/survey/result is sometimes more important (and revealing) than the result. Official sounding 'research' is often used to justify policies and beliefs. By producing a poll claiming over 80% of people are in consensus, the organization publishing the 'research' hopes that the information will convince the undecided, or uniformed, who will reason that if such a lot of people agree, then the policy must be valid and they should agree also. Thus the 'research' becomes an activist agent in shaping opinion, and has self-fulfilling accuracy. But none of this takes away from the value of independent research, or research organizations.
        Nick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Well said. One just has to look back and compare previous 'research reports and forecasts' with actual resultrs. They're often off by a very wide margin. All in all, Pike Research isn't worth much more than asking anyone in the street what his opinion is.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      A lot of the Chinese car buyers are first-time car buyers. This implies that they already have a way to get to their job that doesn't require a car. (They walk, bike, electric bike, public transport, etc.) Thus, they are not buying a car just to get to work. So why are they buying a car? Status, long weekend trips, trips to visit distant relatives, etc. Thus, they don't buy electric cars. The same is often true for many Europeans who have cars but don't use them to commute to work. Pure electric cars are generally commuter vehicles for getting back & forth to work. So if that is not why you buying a car, you are not likely to get an electric.
        SNP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        @Spec, Finally, we can agree. It's one of the main drawbacks of the electric push - by far and large, most people dont "need" them. It's a social statement and with the way EU has an age of austerity going on right now and the living standards of the BRICs not high enough to afford that kind of luxury without an infrastructure supporting it, it's really up to the US to spearhead the move to EVs. And if you ignore initial hype from the sales numbers of every EV model (excl Tesla) released so far, there isnt the demand for EVs. The cost of designing/engineering a mainstream car from scratch is ~$1B. No company can justify selling them without making a profit after the 4-5yr life cycle. Want to go green? Create a fund to donate to the NIF fusion project - they're doing the ultimate test later this year...stated projects for energy release is 10-100X more power than put in. It would start the US on a path to phase out nuclear, coal, natgas, and pave the path for EVs when the battery technology is ready.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Spec Interesting concept. A very original explanation and well worth researching .
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Chinese government failed then, and they don't like to fail. If they were truly Communist, they would force dealerships to sell EVs at a certain percentage or else they couldn't sell ICE cars.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        "...they would force dealerships to sell EVs at a certain percentage or else they couldn't sell ICE cars." You mean like California?
          SNP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          @FordFuture, Ron paul is an crock who's only interested in his political survival. He's a 70+ yr old, MD, politician/legislature. He's knows full well his statements would never and could never be implemented without a dismantling of the global financial system that by far benefits the US. If you returned to the gold standard, it would be worse than sinking all 11 of the US nuclear aircraft carriers at the same time. On another note, 4X - 100X <<< dont know where you got that 100X from, it represents the efficiency of our financial system. An economy that can safely leverage it more is considered better. When you take out a mortgage for a home, they usually demand 20% down. That remaining 80% is the leverage @5X. Every american mortgage paying home owner has leveraged themselves before. When you have absurd things like 1% down or zero% down, on an asset that's supposed to never drop in value, that's when trouble happens - wall st didnt put a gun to people's heads and forced them to buy homes, but it was considered legal and that was the problem. A bank with hundreds of PhDs, economists, and analysts cant leverage themselves 100X, a regular person off the streets should not have that kind of access to money. It's the same thing with credit cards - zero% down, thousands of $$$ in available credit. But the interest rates are very high, so it makes a lot more sense. A home owner with zero% down should also have insanely high interest rates - and interest rates should scale with amount of down payment.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I lol'd. Surprised you have that many up votes, usually the mere mention of anything like that would get 50000 downvotes. Good show.
          SNP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          dont forget ny too. wall street + fed + treasury + greenspan + nyse/nasdaq between the 80's-90's took over the role of global reserve currency, and created by far the largest stock exchange market. From 2000-2010, we created the largest computerized market system and crippled the global economy at the same time. But at least we maintained reserve currency status that lets us issue almost unlimited debt - people pay the federal govt to hold US debt now. How insane is that? "If you want me to borrow money from you, you're gonna have to pay me!"
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          @paulwesterberg Agreed. If it weren't for California, I bet at least half of the articles on ABG would not exist (maybe even ABG itself won't exist). I'll admit I chuckled though. :P
          Ryan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          If California didn't exist we would only have a smaller handful of EVs on the road. If California was more powerful, a few percent of all new cars would have to be electric/plug-in hybrid. That would make a difference nationwide in a few years.
          throwback
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Too funny!!
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I like how the always wrong "right" take about "inflation" and the Fed Printing Money. But, it was WALL STREET that created a 60 Trillion dollar Unregulated CDO market, with NO VALIDATION that the players could backup massive bets. By allowing players to take on 4x to 100x their capital, any failure of one player would take down/bankrupt 100 other players in the market. Wall Street FRAUD - That's Inflation. Unregulated Wall Street Fraud is Inflationary, yet we don't hear Ron Paul calling for Control of Wall Street. Always point the finger at Government, the Government an Incompetent Business Community puts in Power.
          paulwesterberg
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          California is often the only reason why any progress happens in America.
      Dave D
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If Pike said the sky was blue, then I'd doubt my eyes. This is a HUGE "I'm not interested in their opinion" situation. Next.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nothing brightens up a slow news day like a a pike research article! I wish someone would hire me to extrapolate a tiny amount of data into a 5-20 year prediction and put together a few graphs in photoshop here and there. That would be way easier than doing something productive for money!
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Do you think PHEV sales in China will be greater or less than Pike's estimate?
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Yes, i'm hired! lol As for your question, i believe they will be lower. Chinese people are just as cheap as we are, and China has been buying oil fields in the middle east for a while - gas is going to be cheap there for some time and they'll be in the same situation as us for a long time - electrics won't make financial sense for a long time.
        SNP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        yes! you finally understand!! now all you need to do is ditch your ebike, get a useful fuel efficient car, get a wife, have kids, take out a mortgage to buy a house, become manager, collect your pension, send your kids to college, retire, sell your house or pass it to little wheeled menace, stay in an old folks home, get sick, die fast. Pike sucks ass.
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here's the Global Drought Monitor page: http://drought.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/drought.html?map=%2Fwww%2Fdrought%2Fweb_pages%2Fdrought.map&program=%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmapserv&root=%2Fwww%2Fdrought2%2F&map_web_imagepath=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_imageurl=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_template=%2Fdrought.html We have to ask ourselves are are we being so BADLY Misinformed by the National Media? Does Oil have Massive Money Resources to corrupt the major news organizations of the Greatest Country On Earth?
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not a big fan of Pike Research. But all research, especially of this type, is not meant to be infallible! Research and analysis are only tools, or input to help analysts formulate policy. Much like Weather Forecasts! Research reports, opinion polls, etc are not a substitute for thinking ! To often the person or organization commissioning the research defines the objectives (not always intentionally )in such a way as to validate an existing policy or belief. Examination of the methodology behind the conduct of the poll/survey/result is sometimes more important (and revealing) than the result. Official sounding 'research' is often used to justify policies and beliefs. By producing a poll claiming over 80% of people are in consensus, the organization publishing the 'research' hopes that the information will convince the undecided, or uniformed, who will reason that if such a lot of people agree, then the policy must be valid and they should agree also. Thus the 'research' becomes an activist agent in shaping opinion, and has self-fulfilling accuracy. But none of this takes away from the value of independent research, or research organizations.
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      2 Wheeled makes a good point. A 20 year prediction, from the business community? The Same business community that is Ignoring a Massive Global Drought? What are you going to buy first, $100 a pound Chicken or a Car. North American Drought http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/drought/nadm/nadm-maps.php?lang=en&year=2012&month=5&submitted=true I used to vote Republican, now I see I was an Incompetent Voter for believing anything they ever said.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        @ Ford Future "Massive Global Drought" You always post the most extreme and wildly exaggerated claims. There is no "Global" drought ! Droughts are part of the normal cycles of continental climatic conditions. Human agriculture can make the effects of droughts more noticeable, but droughts are part of the natural cycle of weather phenomenon. Oh, by the way, it's very indicative of your thinking that you claim a "Global drought" , and post material about the US to substantiate your claim!
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Marco Polo, Climate change will make droughts much more frequent and persistent. This is happening in the US and other parts of the world. Otoh extreme rainfall is rise too. So I too wouldn't talk of a 'global drought'. But to act as if there is nothing going on is of course the other opposite and equally unfounded. Climate change is a reality staring us in the face right now. We have only had 1 degree C of warming since pre-industrial times and we're heading towards 4-6 degrees. Do not expect these 'natural cycles' to go away.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ Anne, I don't think you quite understand the science behind climate change. In fact, probably one of the major causes of public disinterest with climate change, is due to wild eyed alarmists. Australia recently went through a decade of drought followed by massive flooding. During this period extremists, like Ford Future, claimed this was proof of 'climate change'. The media created a frenzy, and there was a rise in 'green' political success. After a period, people started to remember the words of an old Australian poem, taught to every school child for the last 80 years. I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror The wide brown land for me! Today, support for alarmist green politicians and leftist allies, has evaporated. The problem with excessively alarmist doomsayers is their activities confuse and distract from the real science. To maintain creditability with the general public, science must be conservative and accurate. Claiming evidence of dramatic climate change on a global scale by tendering a cyclical drought in the US, is not evidence of anything. It's about as valid as the climate skeptics argument that because Northern Europe went through a mini freeze and thaw, during the middle ages, climate change doesn't exist., or at least has nothing to do with human activity. Extremist claims, and wild exaggerations, just make it harder to retain public support for important environmental policies based on real science.
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          If you look at the map you'll see a lot of red that isn't supposed to be there.
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Here you go Marcopolo: The Global Drought Monitor http://drought.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/drought.html?map=%2Fwww%2Fdrought%2Fweb_pages%2Fdrought.map&program=%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmapserv&root=%2Fwww%2Fdrought2%2F&map_web_imagepath=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_imageurl=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_template=%2Fdrought.html
      JakeY
      • 2 Years Ago
      It depends if by plug-ins do they include the NEVs and the quadricycles. Those are selling like hot cakes in the Chinese market. I don't see actual electric cars selling well in China given the sales number of hybrids (which have not made any significant dent in Chinese car sales).
      Anne
      • 2 Years Ago
      Now the first thing that struck me is: "China's plug-in vehicle sales" versus: "a half-million plug-ins being produced a year by 2015" sales - produced. Hmm, the difference is of course export. Both Pike Research may be right and the Chinese government can reach their target.
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