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Foreign EV makers fret over China's uncertain playing field

Beijing's diktats give domestic makers edge in Chinese, emerging markets with low-cost cars

TOKYO -- When hundreds of auto industry officials gathered here last week for a conference hosted by research firm IHS Markit, many had one question in mind: what will happen to their access to the Chinese market following Beijing's decision to mandate an output quota for electric vehicles?

Japanese automakers have already seen a steady decline in their market share in China, from 21.3% in 2009 to 15.6% in 2016, losing ground to local manufacturers. Foreign carmakers would be hard-pressed to fight in the local EV market, where Chinese manufacturers can produce much more cheaply.

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