China Launches The Electric Vehicle Arms Race

If you care about global adoption of electric vehicles, there is good news out of China. The country is requiring one out of every five vehicles sold by 2025 to be electric.  And Chinese residents have bought 300,000 electric vehicles already this year — equal to all the EVs sold in California to date, from 2011 to the present.

But as the New York Times reports, these requirements and market support are in part designed to help China corner the market on producing and manufacturing these vehicles:

Behind the scenes, China is recruiting some of the world’s best electrical engineering talent, even in the United States. China is also home to many smaller companies that make the parts essential to assembling electric cars. All this comes just as electric cars are finally starting to become competitive with gasoline- or diesel-powered cars on performance and cost.

So while the U.S. federal government is trying to roll the clock back on clean technology and pretend we can go back to a fossil fuel world, China is getting ready to eat our lunch on the next generation of vehicles. California in particular has a lot to lose economically, with Silicon Valley emerging as a hub for both electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing, with the Tesla plant just up the road in Fremont.

In the end, it’s good for the environment and the economy if China can make EVs cheap and ubiquitous. But it would be a shame for the U.S. to lose its edge on the jobs and economic growth that goes with that production.