So far, the demand for electric cars in Germany has been subdued. A (still) missing infrastructure and a lack of political will leave traces. The situation seems to be changing very slowly, but the emphasis is on “slow”.
Things should go a little faster in China. The political will is there, the expansion of the infrastructure is being pushed ahead with all its might, and NEVS founder Kai Johan Jiang's group of companies also has a share in this. Is everything okay in the Middle Kingdom?
Apparently not! Because although in Beijing 1.000 more charging stations will be connected to the grid by the end of the year and the entire city area should be covered by the end of 2017, a shadow is falling on the supposed electric car paradise. Because - surrounded by state welfare and the effort to declare war on air pollution - amazing things are happening. The car buyer from the capital refuses to sign when buying an electric car.
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More than 5 million cars are on the road in Beijing, and those who want to register a new car must submit an application. The necessary license can then be allocated in a lottery. Last Saturday, 1.841.213 submitted applications for a conventional drive vehicle. This was reported yesterday by the South China Morning Post. The odds of lottery allocation are 0,8%.
By contrast, less than 0,1% of new car buyers want to drive into the future with zero emissions. Less than a per thousand of buyers see the electrical concept as desirable. Only 1.701 applications have been submitted, and if the trend continues in the next few months, then all applicants will receive their license without a draw. In 20.000, 2014 electric cars were approved for registration in Beijing.
With these figures in the background, it is almost impossible to register a conventionally powered vehicle in the capital, but demand remains gigantic. Which is partly understandable. A new car is always an image project, especially in China, and the socket cars from BAIC and BYD are lame, emotionless boxes without prestige. Only Tesla, new to the market, is an exception and seems to hit the nerve. Because BYD yesterday branded the Tesla as a “toy for rich men” while BYD's products are for the masses. But she doesn't feel like it.
The following facts make it clear how tenaciously some citizens strive to obtain approval for a conventionally powered vehicle: a new lottery system has been in place since January for Chinese who have submitted an unsuccessful application more than 25 times (640.000 people are involved). Also for the applicants who were unsuccessful more than 37 (!) Times. Your chance is now 2.4%.
Why is it that the inhabitants of the capital refuse? Because theoretically you could now allow an electric car without the lottery risk.
The reasons are simple. The South China Morning Post writes about the fear of 1.000 taxi drivers who ride electric vehicles. The fears: to get stuck in the dense Beijing traffic with a short range ... the queues in front of the charging stations. Inadequate infrastructure is also an issue in Beijing. 500 charging stations are in operation, with an area of 16.807 square kilometers, which roughly corresponds to the area of Schleswig-Holstein, one cannot exactly speak of a dense network.
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The massive government subsidies seem to be of little use to arouse electrical emotions. Beijing residents receive up to € 13.000 in support if they choose an electrically powered vehicle. Which is a very high state share in a private, automotive investment. The “Qin”, a compact plugin hybrid from battery pioneer BYD, will be launched in the spring for under € 23.000. Companies such as Tesla, BYD and BAIC are placing great hopes in the future market - which is not yet one. NEVS with Saab is one of them.
The electric car is a daring bet with an uncertain outcome, and the description in the South China Morning Post is a snapshot. The future of the concept could be decided in China. Wherever major investments are currently being made in electric mobility. Maybe NEVS will hit a market that is just emerging at the right time. I would wish the Swedes!
In general, subsidies for buying an electric car are of secondary importance if the infrastructure and range do not seem to be consistent. Only if the parameters of the green technology are also in the green will acceptance among buyers grow. In China as in Europe. Otherwise the dream of the electric future will remain a soap bubble. And burst ...