Automakers are obviously free to develop whatever next-gen, zero-emissions tech that they want. However, if a company wants to get on the good side of the Chinese government, that strategy better include some plug-in vehicles. The authorities there are lending major support to plug-ins at the moment, and its forcing the auto industry to play along.

According to Bloomberg, Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and BMW are all launching dedicated EV brands with their joint venture partners, and as many as 40 electric models could hit the Chinese market this year alone. However, analysts don't think the vehicles are going to sell well. Instead, the launches are essentially a way for companies to play nice with the government and help get the approval to build factories in the country.

Take Toyota as an example. The company is pushing the future of hydrogen hard with promotional films for the Mirai and engineers talking down fast-charging EVs. Still, the Japanese automaker is getting ready to launch two EV brands in China with its joint venture partners, according to Bloomberg.

China's push for alternative fuels has been happening for a while, but it really kicked into high gear last year. The government has set a goal to improve fleet-wide economy by 40 percent by the end of the decade in order to spend less importing oil and for the population's health. The plan has shown some success so far with hybrid and EV sales growing early in 2015.

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