Since taking office, Donald Trump has undermined the protection of the environment – which is not going unnoticed by the electric car industry either. Does China soon take place in the e-mobility market?
If you are considering the era of electric cars, consider booking a flight ticket to China. Last week, car makers from all over the world came together at the Shanghai Auto Show to present their latest vehicles: one electric car after another.
Audi reveals its concept for the E-Tron Sportback, a potential competitor for Teslas Model X. VW introduces the Crozz, what is meant by “Dieselgate” as a full electric excuse attempt. Chevrolet, Buick, Renault, Citroen, and Jaguar, as well as the Chinese players Denza, Chery, Lynk & Co and Nio, present their own battery-driven cars.
The New York International Auto Show of last week with its “Bigger is Better” Vibe stood in stark contrast to it. Dodge introduces its air sampler Demon and VW the giant Atlas SUV, which will be available in the USA with only one engine option: a V6.
The decision where a car is first presented is a purely symbolic one. However, Shanghai’s focus on zero-emission vehicles is a sign of a changed focus in the entire industry. Over the past decade, the US home of Tesla, Chevy Volt, and Bolt, has also been the main customer of the Nissan Leaf – the market for electric vehicles. The reason for this is a law that obliges car manufacturers to develop emission-free vehicles in addition to their profitable, sprinting SUVs and pickups.
Now that the Trump government is working to abolish environmental protection laws gradually, the auto industry is shifting its attention towards the East.
Government decisions mainly determine the uphill and downhill rides of the still young electric car industry. In Norway, almost 40 percent of all cars sold are electric due to tax benefits. In the US state of Georgia, sales declined by 90 percent as the government canceled a loan of $5,000 for electric car buyers in June 2015.
In China, loans and rebates provide for impressive sales figures, and the government is also thinking about a scheme for electric and hybrid cars to account for 12 percent of the sales of each car manufacturer by 2020.
While in the US, climate protection and the reduction of dependency on fossil fuels are behind the electric mobility, China sees the technology not only as a means to reduce smog, but also to achieve an economic advantage over the West.
The automotive sector is something that gives countries a lot of prestige. China sees a leadership role in the auto industry as a way to increase its reputation. The government is willing to invest large sums.
In order to take the USA’s rank, China has yet another gear up. Only a few Chinese manufacturers sell electric engines and buses overseas, and none of their own e-cars is successful on the international market.
Many small manufacturers produce affordable electric cars to collect funds and sell vehicles to city dwellers who would otherwise have to win a lottery to buy a petrol engine. Although the Chinese government is already fiercely opposed to manufacturers of inferior electric cars, quality on an international level ‘s hard to achieve.
Perhaps the emphasis on the role of individual countries – as in the United States vs. China – also inappropriate. China is a relatively isolated country, but the car market is an increasingly globalized entity.
Whatever Trump does with the US regulations, Europe continues to adhere to strict environmental protection rules. This is mainly due to the development of electric car concepts for German automotive manufacturers. These vehicles can and will be sold later in the USA as long as the corresponding demand exists.
Nevertheless, a certain self-complacency threatens to stifle the young electric car industry. Many manufacturers produce regular cars in small numbers and accept a minus transaction, just to check off the regulatory checkboxes.
And yet, fans of electric mobility are beginning to feel hope. A survey conducted by the American Automobile Association has shown that consumers in the US are as interested in electric cars as they are in the most dominant pickup trucks. If this sentiment is reflected in sales, the electric car market is gaining momentum all over the world – and consumer demand is overshadowing politics.