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China to embrace electric cars?

Last weekend Beijing hosted the first Formula E Grand Prix. Just like real Motor racing – without the noise! The Chinese have a love and fascination for electric bikes already and millions of them slide silently through the cities of China transporting people of all shapes and sizes with all sorts of payloads to keep the country rolling. So really the short step up to electric cars is probably an easy one psychologically – you would think? 


The promotors of the Formula E race were talking of making electric cars sexy. 


Like the rest of the developed world, China is placing more emphasis on electric cars. The issue that is preventing a significant increase in take up is infrastructure or put more simply, places to re-charge car batteries. The real issue in China is going to be around if electric cars really are sexy, and affordable. As we have said many times on this site – the Chinese have a love affair with brands and the big issue will be around the middle classes embracing electric cars as cool and sexy, rather than an upgraded version of the low cost  electric cycles that dominate the byways of Beijing and every other city.
Tesla is the global brand that is re-defining electric cars. The cars look great, are as fast as most performance models and the retail customer experience is in a different league from more established car brands. These are all benefits the Chinese consumer would be delighted with.
It was announced last week that Tesla is building 400 charging stations across the country and 20 supercharging stations in 20 major cities to offer high speed charging.
Given that China is the 3rd largest country in the world in terms of land mass and has around 656 cities in total, it will take some time for Tesla or anyone else to deliver a complete national footprint but we assume the 20 super charging stations are targeting the 22 cities that have populations in excess of 2 million. So a good start.
No doubt this will include Beijing which, given I spend most of my life in this amazing city will be most welcome. The pollution is about the only downside of living here. My colleagues and friends don’t agree on everything but they do on this issue.
I look forward to seeing electric cars as I travel round the country. In some more remote parts though – I think it might be a while – but it would be cool if China really lead the way on this.