The stock of new energy vehicles in China is the world’s largest, with cumulative sales of almost 4.2 million units through 2019. These figures include passenger cars and heavy-duty commercial vehicles such buses and sanitation trucks, and only accounts for vehicles manufactured in the country. The Chinese government uses the term new energy vehicles (NEVs) to designate plug-in electric vehicles eligible for public subsidies, and includes only battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).
Sales of new energy vehicles since 2011 passed the 500,000 unit milestone in March 2016, and the 1 million mark in early 2017, both, excluding imports. Cumulative sales of new energy passenger cars achieved the 500,000 unit milestone in September 2016, and 1 million by the end of 2017. Domestically produced passenger cars account for 96% of new energy car sales in China.
China’s government has continued its efforts to support and stimulate the development of the NEV industry, and the latest plan is intended to set out a path for progress over the next 15 years that will promote sustainable development of the industry alongside the shift to greener technologies.
Competitiveness in NEVs to surge
The plan noted that China’s NEV industry has been significantly improved through years of continuous effort, with total production and sales of NEVs putting the country at the top of the global rankings since 2015.
China’s international competitiveness was expected to improve significantly, with breakthroughs in several key technologies, such as batteries, drive motors and vehicle operating systems. The safety of China’s NEVs was also expected to improve significantly by 2025.
The average electric power consumption of pure electric passenger cars was estimated to drop to 12kWh per 100km by 2025, while NEV sales would make up 20% of total vehicle sales. The convenience of recharging or replacing electrical systems would increase significantly over the same period.
According to sources in the sector, the current average electric power consumption of pure electric passenger cars is more than 15kWh per 100km, while NEV sales made up around 5% of the total.
PEVs to be mainstream by 2035
The Chinese government’s development goal for 2035 is to have pure electric vehicles (PEVs) as the mainstream option for automotive sales, and that electric vehicles will be used across the public domain. More highly automated vehicle driving applications was another target.
Promoting integrated development
From 2021 to 2035, China will continue to promote efficient collaboration between the NEV industry and other renewable energy sectors.
It will push forward the sharing of information and the integration of NEVs with meteorology and renewable energy forecasting systems, and will also promote the coordination of energy utilization by NEVs together with wind power and photovoltaic power generation.
Guarantees for battery raw materials
China will also promote the whole battery supply chain over the next 15 years. The supply of key battery raw materials resources must be enhanced and ensured. This will include lithium, nickel and cobalt, among other materials.
The country will also require enterprises to improve their capability for technological innovation, to speed up the breakthrough of key manufacturing equipment, and to improve production process and efficiency throughout the supply chain.
Battery raw materials
The 15-year plan for NEVs was expected to create more positive sentiment for battery raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and other chemical compounds.
The price of lithium, a key material widely used in NEV batteries, has broken out of a stalemate and shown an upward trend in recent weeks, with increasing numbers of orders from downstream buyers supported by a recovering NEV sector, and with more producers insisting on higher offers.
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range, exw domestic China was 40,000-41,000 yuan ($5,972-6,121) per tonne on Thursday October 29, narrowing upward from 39,000-41,000 yuan per tonne in the previous week.