Carmakers race to ride electric boom in China
Shanghai auto show illustrates industry shift toward green cars
KOSUKE TOSHI and KOSUKE TAKEUCHI, Nikkei staff writers
SHANGHAI -- Western and Japanese automakers alike are putting their electric vehicles under the spotlight to spark attention as the 17th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition opened Wednesday.
China's government will require production quotas for so-called new-energy vehicles starting next year, rising to 12% of an automaker's Chinese output in 2020, in an effort to alleviate the country's severe air pollution. China, which overtook the U.S. as the largest auto market in 2009, has become the key arena for global carmakers to cultivate their electric-vehicle operations.
Volkswagen holds the overall sales lead in the Chinese auto market. Herbert Diess, who heads operations for Volkswagen's passenger cars brand, said Wednesday the German auto giant will strengthen its electric lineup in China. The company expects China to account for about 60% of its projected 1 million electric-vehicle sales in 2025.
The automaker is using the Shanghai show for the world premiere of its new electric-vehicle concept I.D. Crozz, which boasts a range of 500km per charge. Production is slated to begin in three years.
American automaker General Motors has rolled out its Buick Velite 5 plug-in-hybrids in China.
Japanese automakers have trailed Western rivals in China, but are primed to catch up fast by making an electric push.
Nissan Motor already sells electric vehicles in China, and looks to enhance its lineup. The company's local joint venture Dongfeng Motor will go full throttle with electric offerings next year, releasing products under the Nissan, Infiniti and Venucia brands, said Jun Seki, Dongfeng Motor president. Seki highlighted the automaker's target of reaching the top three in electric vehicles in China.
Honda Motor will accelerate its green strategy in China by advancing the introduction of plug-in hybrids by two years to 2018. The company will consider fuel-cell vehicles as well.
Toyota Motor plans to roll out electric vehicles in China within a few years.
Japanese automakers seized the global car market with fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles and hybrids. How well they promote green-energy strategies at this auto show may influence their success in expanding Chinese business.