Business / Auto China

Smaller, cheaper EVs may trump pricey Teslas

By Lyu Chang (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-28 08:22

Amid high sales expectations, Tesla may be hoping to spark China's stagnant new-energy vehicle market, but experts believe the US carmaker won't be shift the industry into high gear.

"Although heavy smog is an issue in many major Chinese cities, and there is a market waiting for solutions, you can't count on Tesla to make an electric revolution happen," said Yang Yusheng, a batteries expert and an academician at Chinese Academy of Engineering. "An electric sedan is not for everyone, not to mention Tesla is a premium brand reserved for high-end customers," he added.

Smaller, cheaper EVs may trump pricey Teslas

Smaller, cheaper EVs may trump pricey Teslas
Yang spoke at a forum on electric vehicles held Sunday in Beijing.

Tesla caused quite a stir in China with its splashy debut earlier this month, but Yang said it will be homegrown, low-speed electric vehicles that will ultimately steer the industry rather than the American upstart.

Priced at about 30,000 yuan ($4,960), low-speed electric vehicles (including two-wheelers) have a strong presence in China. Experts forecast that more than 300,000 low-speed electric cars were sold in 2013, more than 10 times the total in 2009.

China is now home to more than 200 million electric two-wheelers, creating about 100 billion yuan in value, according to Ma Zhongchao, president of China Bicycling Association.

"The growth in both low-speed electric cars and bikes is higher than expected. It is surprising coming at a time when the economic outlook is not exactly promising," he said.

Zhang Tianren, chairman of the Hong Kong-listed Tianneng Group, one of China's largest battery producers, said there are mature technologies to control pollution released during the production of lead-acid batteries. He called on the government to set up technical standards for the industry.

"The EV industry is too large to be neglected. It needs the support of government, including subsidies and relevant policies, to kick-start it and to direct it in the right way," said Zhang, who is a representative for the upcoming two sessions of the National People's Congress and Beijing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

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