After several false starts and broken promises, 2014 was the breakthrough year for plug-in car sales in China. Nearly 75,000 plug-in hybrid and electric cars were sold in China last year, a 320% increase over 2013, reports Green Car Congress. Could 2015 see China take the lead in world plug-in car sales?
It’s seem like a distinct possibility, especially once you break down the numbers. Of the 74,763 plug-in cars sold in 2014, 48,605 were battery-electric vehicles, while 29,894 were of the plug-in hybrid variety. So despite concerns about the lack of a proper charging infrastructure, in the span of a year Chinese plug-in car sales have almost caught up with the largest market, America, which barely broke 100,000 sales this year.
Why have Chinese plug-in car sales tripled in the course of a single year? Just one word; incentives. China’s national and city governments have launched a barrage of incentives aimed at getting people into cleaner plug-in cars, from offering free license plates (valued at over $15,000 in many places), no taxes, and no wait to register. This has helped domestic car manufacturers (and joint partnerships) sell increasing numbers of plug-in cars, and 2015 should see even higher sales. The government is also investing $16 billion into a new EV charging infrastructure to further increase to appeal of plug-ins.
Numerous figures in the auto industry have said that China could become the largest market for plug-in cars in short order, and that prediction seems to be coming true already. Not a second too late either, as China’s air quality continues to rate somewhere between “dystopian” and just “dismal.”