China produced 78,499 new energy vehicles last year, three and a half times higher than the previous year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The best-selling model last year was BYD Auto’s Qin, a plug-in hybrid compact sedan, with 14,747 units sold.
Governments measures helped drive growth, according to Kang Liping, clean transportation project manager at the non-profit Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation based in Beijing.
Last September, China announced that it would waive purchasing taxes on electric vehicles through December 2017, as well as offer subsidies of CNY35,000 (USD5,687) for buyers of hybrid vehicles and CNY60,000 (USD9,749) for buyers of electric vehicles.
Some local governments have likewise put in place policies to help boost sales. For example, Shenzhen in China’s southern Guangdong Province has limited the number of new license plates to be issued to 100,000 per year, with 20,000 allocated to electric cars.
In January, it also announced a RMB 5 billion (USD717 million) fund to promote new energy vehicles. BYD is based in Shenzhen.
The development of electric vehicles is an important national policy, according to CAAM.
“It is not just an industrial issue, but a systematic project involving energy, transport, business pattern, city planning, infrastructures, connected vehicles, intelligent transport and smart city,” the CAAM website said.
The lack of electric charging stations remained an obstacle, however, with only 723 charging stations in the country.