Two heavyweights in China’s electric vehicle (EV) industry have lobbied Beijing for different approaches to charging, a key issue in the development of the new energy vehicle market in the country. Lei Jun, chief executive officer of smartphone giant Xiaomi which has recently entered the market and Geely CEO Li Shufu, an automobile industry veteran, have tabled different proposals at China’s annual political gathering asking for the government to change the charging approach for EVs. Xiaomi made its move into an already crowded EV market in March last year, and has started to build its first EV factory on the outskirts of Beijing . Lei, a delegate at the National People’s Congress, suggested that China should develop more high-power charging stations and build new infrastructure. BYD to use Baidu’s autonomous driving technology as it takes on Tesla “Charging infrastructure is the backbone of the EV industry”, said Lei in his proposal, making an appeal to upgrade the country’s current public charging points, which tend to be low-power and take a relatively long time to charge batteries. However, Geely’s Li has suggested that China build more battery swap stations, which negates the need for lengthy charging stops. Li said in his proposal that the battery swap approach would increase charging efficiency and lower the upfront purchase price of EVs. The differences between Lei and Li are representative of a bigger debate within the global industry. While the Tesla model of charging is still the mainstream approach, a number of Chinese EV start-ups like NIO and Xpeng, and battery makers like Contemporary Amperex Technology Co, have already stepped up efforts to push battery swap services . David Zhang, an automobiles industry researcher at the North China University of Technology, said Lei’s proposal to build a better charging infrastructure would help newcomers like Xiaomi build their market position. China’s charging stations need upgrading because only about 20 per cent of EV charging piles in the country are high-powered and fast. “There’s an urgent need for faster, cheaper battery charging services,” said Zhang. Xiaomi denies job cuts as it ramps up investments in EVs, high-end phones With regards to battery swapping, Zhang said it would be hard to persuade carmakers to accept a standardised battery for swapping, but noted that the approach could have potential in special vehicles, such as electric taxis, and in car-sharing industries. Sales of EVs have boomed in the world’s largest automobile market. In 2021, there were 2.99 million units of new energy vehicles sold in China, a record high and accounting for 14.8 per cent of overall vehicle sales in the country, according to data compiled by the China Passenger Car Association. Faced with massive EV charging needs, China’s National Development and Reform Commission in January vowed to build an EV charging network that would be accessible in every town and village by 2035, serving over 20 million EVs in the country. .