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ICCT: Driving a green future: A retrospective review of China’s electric vehicle development and outlook for the future

In just a decade, China has become the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) market

In just a decade, China has become the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) market. Today the country accounts for half of the world’s electric cars and more than 90% of electric buses and trucks. This report, written with our partners at China EV100, traces and unfolds the incredible growth of China’s EV market. The authors identify four major stages of China’s EV development and highlight the key national strategies and plans that led to the growth. As illustrated in the figure below, it was concrete policies of three types—pilot programs, incentives, and regulations—that drove the market. Additionally, a clearly articulated vision for industry strategy and top-down planning with clear development targets and policies have been among the foundations of China’s success.

The report also quantitatively compares China’s EV market, industry value chain, battery technology evolution, competitiveness, and long-term development vision with two other leading EV markets—the United States and Europe. There are additionally highlights of interviews with five international experts who have years of experience in EV technology and policies. These shed light on what has made China the world’s largest EV market, what China can offer to the rest of the world in the global transition to zero-emission transportation, and things China should consider in order to sustain its EV success going forward. Among the recommendations of this report are for China to update its vision and work toward a fully electrified transport sector, and pivot to a new set of regulatory and market-driven approaches.


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