China car dilemma: Beijing wants electric, buyers want SUVs

Posted: April 17, 2017 by oldbrew in Emissions, government, Travel
Tags: ,

China’s BYD F3DM plug-in hybrid [image credit: Mariordo]

Scare stories about man-made global warming or even city pollution cut little ice with Chinese car buyers. The high cost of battery power and/or fear of running out of it on their journeys – range anxiety – seem more of a concern.

Automakers face a dilemma in China’s huge but crowded market: Regulators are pushing them to sell electric cars, but buyers want gas-guzzling SUVs, says

The industry is rattled by Beijing’s proposal to require that electric cars make up 8 percent of every brand’s production as soon as next year. Consumers are steering the other way: First-quarter SUV sales soared 21 percent from a year earlier to 2.4 million, while electric vehicle purchases sank 4.4 percent to just 55,929.

“It’s tough for someone with an EV to come and take away market share from SUVs,” said Ben Cavender of China Market Research Group.

The Shanghai auto show, which opens to the public on Friday, will showcase work on electric models meant to appeal to Chinese drivers who are wary of the unfamiliar technology’s reliability and cost.

The pressure for electrification in China is an added headache for automakers at a time when sales growth is slowing and competition heating up in a market they are counting on to drive global revenue.

Sales growth fell to 1.7 percent in March from last year’s 15 percent. SUVs made up 40 percent of sales, while sedan purchases fell 4.9 percent.

At the Shanghai show, the industry’s biggest marketing event this year, almost every global and Chinese brand plans to display at least an electric concept car, if not a model ready for sale, alongside its latest SUVs and sedans.
. . .
Government planners see electric vehicles as a sector where China can lead, and a Cabinet technology development plan issued in 2013 calls for two of the top global brands in 2025 to be Chinese.

Hence the proposal, released in September, calling for electric or gasoline-electric hybrids to make up 8 percent of every automaker’s output next year. That would rise to 10 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2020.

Manufacturers failing to meet those targets could buy credits from companies that produce more electrics, helping to subsidize development.

People in the industry say manufacturers have warned Beijing those targets are too ambitious. News reports say regulators might have agreed to lower or delay them in an updated plan due out this year, but there has been no official confirmation.

Full report: China car dilemma: Beijing wants electric, buyers want SUVs |

  1. dennisambler says:

    Maybe China is not the place for this Honda then….

    “Carmaker apparently convinced it has a found a low-mileage niche market”

  2. Hans Erren says:

    I see a great market potential in china for cheap electric suv’s with a large range and short charge.

  3. AlecM says:

    Doesn’t matter for a densely-populated city.

  4. Jim says:

    Like in the US, 80 miles or km’s is not far enough. There has to be a change over period where people get to go somewhere. Like a beach, or to the mountains. None of the electric cars will do a full family trip. Or a long weekend. That is why a gas electric hybrid would or should have been the awnser to the question. Reduce the need for fuels, thru a super efficient generator to power an electric motor for travel over that distance. And they are starting at the wrong end of the scale. Government mandates, make the government figure how to introduce it to the market for use. Make the government buy electric vehicles, for police, fire, and general purpose. Then see if all electric is the way.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Sell cars like hot cakes or struggle to sell them at all. Not a hard choice.

  6. ivan says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if some turned on Chinese car maker came out with an ‘electric’ car that used a diesel generator to supply power to wheel motors but didn’t have the vast battery bank included.

    With a diesel running at a constant speed at its most efficient point the pollution would be very low. Individual wheel motors would give better traction and control and without the battery pack the weight could be lower or the size increased plus the cost would be much lower.

    That sort of electric car should sell like hot cakes.

  7. oldbrew says:

    ivan – something like this? Won’t be cheap…

    The CrossBlue features a plug-in hybrid powertrain that combines a TDI engine with two electric motors, a DSG transmission, and an electric all-wheel-drive system dubbed ‘propshaft by wire’

  8. ivan says:

    oldbrew, something like that but without the batteries and 4 electric motors -one in each wheel.

    In other words, a large SUV (e.g. Chevrolet Suburban, I like large 4 x 4s) remove the power plant and drive train and replace with a constant speed diesel generator and individual drive motors in each wheel. This is old technology and has been used in industry for years, think the spoil transporters in open cast mines. No large battery bank needed or wanted so technically not a hybrid therefore no electricity needed for charging

  9. tom0mason says:

    “Automakers face a dilemma in China’s huge but crowded market: Regulators are pushing them to sell electric cars, but buyers want gas-guzzling SUVs, says”

    Umm, no learning from history then, command economy dictating the customer requirements has worked so badly in the past.

  10. oldbrew says:

    Chinese carmakers, Volkswagen and BMW roll out ‘Tesla Killers’

    The Chinese strategy is simple: beat the Model 3 in China by making their cars more premium but cheaper than Tesla’s mass-market all-electric battery car.