China playing catch-up on electric vehicles

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2012, 12:00am


China will move faster to develop its clean-energy vehicle industry to regain ground lost to the United States and tackle the pressing issue of rising fuel consumption at home, the State Council says.

A State Council meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday decided the government would prioritise the development of electric cars, with a focus on promoting the industrialisation of pure electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles, Xinhua reported.

China's reliance on imports of crude oil reached 55.2 per cent in August, surpassing that of the US for the first time. To support the growth of the conventional vehicle industry, China would need to increase its crude oil consumption by 40 per cent in the near future, said Ye Yingmin, general manager of Beijing-based chemical consulting firm Chem1.

The country's consumption of crude oil surpassed its economic growth last year. If consumption patterns don't change, China will rely on imports for 80 per cent of its oil, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says.

'It is basically impossible to import that much more crude oil going forward,' said Ye.

China hoped to produce up to 500,000 pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2015 and 5 million by 2020, Xinhua said. The country will try to lower the average fuel consumption of cars to 0.069 litres per kilometre this year and, by 2020, to 0.05 litres per kilometre.

Globally, clean-energy finance and investment grew to US$263 billion last year, a 6.5 per cent increase over the previous year, according to research by Pew Charitable Trusts, a US-based independent non-profit organisation.

The US has reclaimed the top spot in the clean-energy race from China, which has been leading the field since 2009, says Pew Charitable Trusts, adding that Germany, Italy, Britain and India are among the nations that successfully attracted private investments last year. The clean-energy industry in Asia rose more than 10 per cent to US$75 billion, but remained relatively flat in China at US$45.5 billion last year, Pew said.


The amount, in US dollars, invested globally in clean-energy finance and investment last year

- China spent US$45.5 billion