SAIC Motor's MG-branded electric vehicles await loading at a port in Shanghai. (Photo: Xinhua)
China's latest development plan for the new energy vehicle sector prioritizes quality over scale in order to achieve more technological breakthroughs, as the country seeks the more stable and scientific development of its automotive industry in the face of a global market downturn, top industry regulators and experts said on Tuesday.
"With the new plan, the competitiveness of the country's NEV industry is expected to be greatly enhanced by 2025, with significant breakthroughs in key technologies such as power batteries, drive motors and vehicle operating systems," said Xin Guobin, vice-minister of industry and information technology.
"The plan also gives full play to the role of the market and allows carmakers greater autonomy in determining technology and product development, and meanwhile, gives more consideration to safety," Xin said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The remarks came after the State Council, China's Cabinet, recently approved the new development plan for the NEV industry from 2021 to 2035. According to the plan, the nation's NEV sales are expected to account for 20 percent of overall new car sales by 2025 and purely electric automobiles are set to account for the majority of new cars by 2035.
The new target for NEV sales in 2025 is lower than the 25 percent in an earlier policy proposal. Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, said, "It is a more stable and scientific goal, following the global slowdown of the automotive industry last year, which put more focus on high-quality development rather than scale development."
"The plan is also of significance to encouraging the development of high-end new energy vehicles, as it no longer uses simple indicators to restrict the overall industry, but gives greater autonomy to carmakers to develop," Cui said.
Meng Xiangfeng, an assistant to the chairman of new energy battery provider Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd, said that the guideline comes as global NEV development is set to become more mature over the coming five to 15 years.
"At this critical period, the new plan proposes a broader and more detailed vision. It will play an important leading role in the development of China's NEV sector and contribute to the overall development globally," Meng said.
The plan listed five strategic tasks－improving technological innovation, boosting industrial ecosystems, advancing industrial integration and development, perfecting the infrastructure system and deepening global cooperation.
It also set the goal of reducing the average power consumption of new purely electric passenger cars to 12 kWh per 100 kilometers and asked for accelerated government efforts in ensuring the construction of NEV infrastructure.
As of Tuesday, shares of a string of NEV companies and industry chain suppliers rose to a new high. The shares of NEV startup Nio, for instance, rose 8.96 percent to $33.32 per share.
"With the upgraded plan, NEV companies are able to have better development in a more market-oriented environment," said Qin Lihong, co-founder and president of Nio.
China's market for NEVs has been the world's largest for five consecutive years.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the country's NEV output was 136,000 units and sales reached 138,000 units in September, up 48 and 67.7 percent year-on-year respectively, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.