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16-02-2024 | Electro Mobility | In the Spotlight | Article

China Leads in E-mobility, but not in the Electricity Mix

Author: Frank Urbansky

2:30 min reading time

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A consistent industrial policy has helped China to become the world market leader in electromobility. This also includes the production of batteries. However, the electricity mix in China itself means that this form of mobility is by no means regenerative.

E-mobility is gaining ground in China. In 2023, a total market share of just over 35% is expected - in a total market of over 20 million passenger cars. China aims to have at least 40% of all new registrations be electric vehicles by 2030. There are currently 8.25 million electric cars on the road there - half of all vehicles worldwide.

The majority of electric vehicles now leave little to be desired in terms of technology and safety. Numerous joint ventures with European and American manufacturers have also helped Chinese car manufacturers to achieve this. This and the huge domestic market have made China the global market leader in electromobility - with current export figures of over 2.5 million cars, as many as Germany. 

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01-02-2024 | In the Spotlight

China's Automotive Industry - Pragmatism as a Strategy

China is not only overtaking the Western world with its electric cars, but also catching up with its combustion-engine vehicles, which it is now selling worldwide. What are Chinese companies doing better than their Western counterparts? And what are they doing differently? The country's recipe for success lies in its highly pragmatic, technologically neutral approach and its apparently unlimited supplies of raw materials and labor.

Market Leader in E-Mobility Thanks to Battery Expertise

At the same time, the Chinese automotive specialist magazine and supplier industry is striving to take a leading role in key technologies such as battery cell production. China, together with Japan and South Korea, dominates global battery cell production. The country has a broad industrial base and experience in battery cell production for consumer electronics.

Although China does not have all the necessary battery raw materials, it is largely independent in the procurement and processing of the most important raw materials. By actively investing in regions rich in raw materials, China ensures a stable supply of raw materials.

Compared to China, German and European companies face a double competitive disadvantage in the electromobility market. On the one hand, there is already intense competition, which makes it difficult to set up cost-efficient battery cell production facilities. Secondly, there is a lack of cost-effective access to the essential battery raw materials. A common European solution would be necessary here.

Fuel Mix Far from Green

However, electromobility in China is not necessarily a green option. The electricity mix is still dominated by coal power (56.2 %), followed by oil (17.9 %), renewable energies (17.5 %) and natural gas (8.4 %). This will change little in the coming years, especially as the government continues to push ahead with the expansion of coal power (but also the expansion of PV and wind power). By 2025, 1,200 GW of installed solar energy and 3.3 million kWh of renewable energies are to be achieved. China is already the country with the highest capacity and production of renewable energies in the world.

By 2030, 25% of total energy consumption, i.e. not just electricity, is to be covered by renewable energies. The current share is 12 to 13%. In the transport sector, this can only be achieved with electromobility if the electricity mix becomes correspondingly green.

In this context, the diversity of alternative drives for combustion engines is revealing. Liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is largely imported and used directly in liquefied form, accounts for 62%. Electricity accounts for only 16.3%. Liquefied coal (12.3 %), ethanol (4.8 %), methanol (2 %) and biodiesel (1.5 %) are also used. Hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles accounts for just 0.4%.

Read more about the mobility industry in China in the article China’s Automotive Industry – Pragmatism as a Strategy from MTZ 2-3/2024.

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