Every time I go to the VIA Beijing office I always find something new to look at and think about. Last week, it was this newly-installed bank of electric car charging points just behind the building.
For all the hype surrounding the latest advances in battery technology, the key to driving the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is making sure that there are enough places for drivers to top up their power when they are on the road. With a raft of government policies aimed at promoting the use of electric cars, China is in a much stronger position to build up the necessary supporting infrastructure than any other country in the world and thus drive (no pun intended) the creation of a mass market for such vehicles.
In the course of this process, of course, China will also have the opportunity to build up a world-beating electric car industry. The billions of dollars of investment that are currently being poured into the sector provide a clear testament to its huge potential. Indeed, with estimated sales of 220,000 units last year, China is already the world’s largest electric vehicle market and is set to pull much further ahead in the coming years.
While marquee brands such as Tesla are doing a great job of building up excitement about electric vehicles, it will only be when the much less glamorous work of infrastructure and manufacturing ecosystem development is completed that global demand for such vehicles will really take off.