Any business reporter is taught that, when in doubt, always follow the money. With China's aggressive push for advanced-powertrain vehicle production and sales, that means better fleetwide fuel economy. Why? Lower fuel use means less money spent importing oil. It's that simple.

China's gasoline consumption more than doubled between 2003 and 2013 and, as a result, the country has been importing more than half of its oil during the past five years. As we know in the US, that kind of thing can put a drain on the national economy.

So the country is looking to boost fleetwide fuel economy by almost 40 percent by the end of the decade, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). That means government investments of $15 billion in advanced-powertrain vehicle technology during the next 10 years, more than $300 million in additional incentives towards manufacturers and electric-vehicle subsidies of about $10,000 from the central government and another $10,000 to $20,000 available in cities like Beijing and Shenzhen.

Of course, China has a long way to go. The country wants plug-in and hybrid production at a half-million vehicles by next year, which is heady stuff for a country with fewer than 40,000 EVs on the road right now. Check out the EIA's synopsis of the situation below.
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China promotes both fuel efficiency and alternative-fuel vehicles to curb growing oil use

Unprecedented motorization in China has led to significant increases in oil demand and oil imports. In response to growing oil imports, the Chinese government is adopting a broad range of policies, including improvements in the fuel economy of new vehicles and the promotion of alternative-fuel vehicles.

Consumption of gasoline in China grew from 0.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2003 to more than 2 million bbl/d in 2013. This continues a trend of significant growth in China's transportation sector since the 1990s. Increasing oil demand requires China to import more petroleum from other countries, and since 2009, China has been importing more than half of its petroleum needs. Under the Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicle Plan for 2012 to 2020 released in 2012, average passenger car fuel economy is targeted to increase to 34 miles per gallon by 2015 and 47 miles per gallon by 2020.

In its 12th, and current, Five-Year Plan, the Chinese government also launched a new strategy to promote new energy vehicles (NEV; vehicles that are partially or fully powered by electricity) and to support its domestic automobile industry to mass-produce NEVs. The government plans to invest an estimated $15 billion in alternative-fuel vehicles during the next 10 years. The national target for cumulative production and sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles is 500,000 units by 2015. The NEV target for 2020, originally set at 5 million vehicles, was recently scaled back to 1 million vehicles.

To meet NEV penetration targets, to boost consumer demand, and to make alternative-fuel vehicles more affordable, the Chinese government has been offering many financial incentives, including some $4 billion allocated for energy-saving products, primarily NEV and household appliances. Additionally, in 2012 the Chinese Ministry of Finance announced it would provide annual subsidies up to two billion yuan ($323.6 million) to support NEV manufacturing. In September 2013, the government announced additional subsidies that will support the growth of new energy vehicle ownership through 2015.

For electric vehicles, subsidies from the central government are often matched by local subsidies. For example, in Beijing, the central government subsidy of 60,000 yuan ($9,700) is matched by a subsidy of equal amount from the city of Beijing. Many other cities also offer considerable subsidies. For example, the Shenzhen government offers one of the highest subsidies for electric vehicles in the country-120,000 yuan ($19,400) per passenger vehicle-reducing the price of such vehicles by more than half. In addition to financial incentives, some cities offer other incentives, including free license plates for NEVs and exemptions from vehicle license plate quota systems. For example, Shanghai (where a license plate can cost as much or more than an entry-level domestically manufactured car) offered free license plates for 20,000 electric vehicles purchased before the end of 2013. Guangzhou offers 12,000 free plates allocated by lottery, and Beijing offers electric vehicles an exemption from the vehicle license lottery, which prospective owners of gasoline-fueled automobiles are required to enter.

Despite many incentives, electric vehicles sales to date have been minimal. NEV sales account for less than 1% of total vehicle sales in China, which in 2013 remained the world's largest vehicle sales market for the fifth year in a row. According to China Daily, as of March 2013, an estimated 39,800 electric vehicles were on the road, approximately 80% of which are used for public transport.

Some of the reasons behind low sales of NEVs to date are high vehicle costs despite government subsidies, inadequate charging infrastructure, limited driving range when compared to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, lack of a national industry standard for charging connectors, consumer education and acceptance of the new technology, and vehicle safety issues, among others.


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  • 27 Comments
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      They have about 4 times the population of the United States and use about 60% less oil than we do according to world usage charts i've seen. This shows a huge difference between the USA and China. The USA will go to war for oil at the drop of a hat to keep prices and supply as-is... China will be proactive to reduce their use.. I'd say that i prefer their policy.. :)
        Spec
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Well . . . China does do a lot of sleazy foreign policy stuff. They'll sign oil deals with any old evil repressive dictator. They'll buy oil from places like Iran that everyone else is trying to sanction so they drop their nuclear program. So although they have not fought oil wars, they will buy oil from repressive regimes and thus support a lot of bad behavior.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Spec
          We get oil from a lot of places with evil repressive dictators too, actually. We also like blowing up those countries, destabilizing them multiple times, then putting our soldiers in there to long term make sure the stuff keeps flowing our way ( we are currently doing this with Iraq, for starters ) Fun fact: did you know that our government paid for Iran's nuclear program, which is why they have all that fun stuff? Google 'atoms for peace'
          Samuel Look
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Spec
          Which still doesn't change the fact they are actively trying to reduce their dependence on said sources of oil this is in stark contrast to the US which for decades has had massive lobby groups and even members of government and hundreds of millions spent actively trying to prevent measures that might do this for the US.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Yeah, China's foreign policy is really so awful, compared to ours. We have only been at war for every single year ( except 4 years ) since our country has been conceived. All our wars are for peace tho! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations
        Bootkicker
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Yeah so all their aggressive moves to their asian neighbors lately is just because they like their view. LOL!! What a dork
      EVnerdGene
      • 11 Months Ago
      China will invest $15Billion in the next ten years. That's $1.5 Billion per year. We pay China about $50Billion per year interest on our $1.4Trillion debt to them. (source NPR) Our DOE budget was $30.6Billion in 2012. (no later figgers are available, I guess they're not sure). How much of that would you say was spent on energy research ??? We need to get our priorities straight. Cut waste in government to reduce national debt, and spend what money we do spend more wisely.
        CoolWaters
        • 11 Months Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        Never gone-a happen as long as Republicans control Congress. Vote 2014.
          Actionable Mango
          • 11 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          1) Republicans don't control Congress, they control the House. Democrats control the Senate. Get your facts straight, you party hack. 2) You imply that as soon as Democrats control Congress that waste will be eliminated. This is laughable. Neither party in Congress is going to cut waste. They are a duopoly living like kings, high on the hog.
          EVnerdGene
          • 11 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          coolwater is our resident mal-informed bigot
          Bootkicker
          • 11 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Yes vote for more big government that trample their citizens life and try to control every aspect of it. After all, Obamacare is working so so well. LOL!
          2 wheeled menace
          • 11 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Yes, what we need is to continually cycle republicans and democrats in/out of our system as we have done for over 200 years now. That's just worked fantastic for us.
      Glen
      • 11 Months Ago
      Sure, "follow the money" China continues to steal technology, remains the number one polluter and enemy of wildlife.
        CoolWaters
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Glen
        All true, but they're spending to stop the pollution, and take over the Solar and Wind markets. Ignore this and die economically.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Glen
        And we keep sending our manufacturing over there so that they can continue to steal our technology.
      diffrunt
      • 11 Months Ago
      Speaking of ---China, & their money spending-----http://gizmodo.com/welcome-to-the-worlds-largest-ghost-city-ordos-china-1541512511
        Driver
        • 11 Months Ago
        @diffrunt
        The story is old, exaggerated and designed to make us (westerners) feel better after 2008. Apart from from a few small areas in China approved by stupid local governments, most property in Chinese cities is tight and difficult to buy into.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 11 Months Ago
        @diffrunt
        American version: Pruitt-Igoe
        Ryan
        • 11 Months Ago
        @diffrunt
        Real Estate is one of few investment options there.
      Spec
      • 11 Months Ago
      And Chinese mileage standards are already way above ours.
      Ryan
      • 11 Months Ago
      If only our country had the same vision and actually did something about it. It has been brought up for 40 years, yet we still aren't "energy independent", and no amount of fracking will change that. The numbers don't add up. We will continue to spend billions of dollars a year to far off dictators and oil execs, oil company employees, and investors making money off a polluting product that they don't have to pay for.
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        Well said Ryan.......................
        CoolWaters
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        Never gonna happen as long as Repubs control congress, and oil controls Repubs.
        Spec
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        Yeah, you really can't frack your way to independence. And to some degree, it is counter-productive . . . it just ends up making you more dependent on a finite commodity that we literally burn up. We should enjoy this oil but use it wisely and move to get off oil.
      eric
      • 11 Months Ago
      Dem Jowls.
      Spec
      • 11 Months Ago
      What an ugly car front. It looks like a Bulldozer.
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