With strict new-energy vehicle production quotas taking effect in China next year, GM China has raised its target to 20 models through 2023.
Chinese policymakers continue to promote electric vehicles (EVs) as an alternative to gasoline-powered cars, and American carmaker General Motors is eager to meet demand in the world’s biggest market. Matt Tsien, GM Executive VP and President of GM China since 2014, said the company plans to launch 10 heavily electrified vehicle models in the country from 2021 through 2023, adding to the 10 it has already planned for 2016 through 2020.
“Clearly, we have a strategy in place and there is an implementation in place to do that”, said Tsien, referring to new-energy vehicle development and deployment at GM’s joint ventures in China. “We are integrating GM’s global expertise in electrification with our local research, development and manufacturing capabilities.”
The Chinese government seeks to put China at the forefront of the automotive sector’s shift towards electrification. Last year it put a policy in place requiring automakers, domestic and foreign, to sell a minimum number of new-energy vehicles per year in the country, starting in 2019. The goal is to potentially phase out fossil-fuel powered vehicles. China has made environmental protection one of its top three priorities, and transforming the automotive sector is key, since transportation accounts for 10% of its greenhouse gas emissions.
The new energy vehicle production quotas, which are to be made more stringent over time, have “prompted a flurry of electric car deals and new launches of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid models as automakers in China race to ensure they do not fall short,” Reuters reports.
In April, China’s state planner said it would remove caps on foreign ownership of EV ventures in China later this year, opening the door to foreign competitors such as Tesla. Tsien said that GM does not plan to take advantage of the easing of ownership restrictions; rather, it will continue to work through its joint ventures with local Chinese automakers, he told reporters. The easements will extend to makers of commercial vehicles in 2020, and to the wider car market by 2022.
Like GM, all of the major automakers are preparing to accelerate EV production, with plenty of competition to go around, including within China. In February, Li Shufu, chairman of Chinese carmaker Geely, bought a nearly 10% stake in Daimler AG. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reported in January that it expects sales growth of around 40% in new-energy vehicles in 2018 alone. Drivers in the world’s second-largest economy already buy more electric vehicles, as well as more new cars overall, than anywhere else.