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NEV firms to have more say in sector's future

Li Fusheng
Updated: Oct 12,2020 07:11 AM    China Daily

China will give carmakers and the market a larger say in developing the new energy vehicle sector as part of its efforts to improve the sector's long-term competitive edge.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, made the remarks when it passed on Oct 9 a 15-year development plan for the sector from 2020 to 2035, according to a statement on its official website.

The State Council said the decisive role of the market will be brought into full play in resources allocation and companies will be the major decision-makers in technological paths.

The authorities will instead focus more on formulating standards and regulations as well as quality and safety supervision, it said.

In the statement, the State Council called for technological breakthroughs in vehicles' operating systems and power batteries. It pledged support for infrastructure, including charging piles, battery-swap stations, and hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles.

It also expressed support for international cooperation in the sector and made clear that it would continue to promote favorable policies for use of new energy vehicles in public sectors, including transportation and logistics.

Analysts said the move shows China's dedication to developing new energy vehicles and will allow more room for innovation in technology and business models, which will consolidate the country's leading position in the sector.

China has been the world's largest market for new energy vehicles since 2015. However, sales in the market have suffered because of subsidy cuts and the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first eight months this year, sales of new energy vehicles totaled only 596,000, down 26.4 percent year-on-year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Despite the short-term setback, carmakers are confident in the sector's long-term potential in China.

At the Beijing auto show that concluded on Oct 5, companies from around the globe showcased 785 models, of which more than 20 percent were new energy vehicles.

Volvo unveiled its first electric model, the XC40 Recharge, at this year's only top-level gathering for vehicle makers and car aficionados.

Yuan Xiaolin, president and CEO of Volvo Asia Pacific, said the model's onboard connectivity and infotainment functions are the results of Volvo's partnership with Chinese companies including iFlytek, a voice-recognition product producer, and AutoNavi, China's largest in-vehicle navigation app maker.

"For a smart electric vehicle (to succeed) in China, its software, especially its apps and services, needs to meet Chinese customers' demand," Yuan said.

Three days before the auto show that started on Sept 26, Volvo's owner, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, unveiled a platform for electric vehicles.

Li Shufu, Geely's chairman and founder, said: "Our development of this transformative electric vehicle architecture marks the biggest leap forward at Geely in more than a decade."

The 18-billion-yuan ($2.64 billion) platform was the joint effort of the carmaker's R&D centers in China, Sweden, the UK, and Germany, according to Geely President An Conghui.

He said the idea of developing such a platform started around five years ago, adding that "architectures are the core competitive edge in the automotive industry".

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