China is leading the worldwide race in the production and sales of electrified vehicles, but quality issues are hurting the local industry, Bloomberg reports.
The Asian superpower began ramping up production of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) in 2015 with the introduction of the ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial strategy. Exorbitant amounts of money have been provided to car manufacturers and battery producers through generous subsidies, and the government has even issued mandates for electric vehicle production regardless of demand. New tariffs have also been applied on imported cars to encourage locals to buy vehicles built in China.
This strategy is definitely working. In 2018, Chinese car manufacturers sold a record 1.256 million NEVs, most of which feature all-electric powertrains. The country has a goal of hitting 2 million NEV sales in 2020 and it’s on track to achieve that goal. However, Chinese media has started to reveal issues plaguing many local manufacturers.
In 2018, a total of 135,700 NEVs were recalled across China, more than 10 per cent of all NEVs produced. It is claimed that most issues were related to batteries, with at least 40 vehicles spontaneously combusting. Other common issues include overheating batteries, faulty transmissions, faulty odometers, and batteries that drained faster than they should.
A recent survey conducted in China found that almost 70 per cent of respondents regretted buying an NEV.
Thanks to the government’s subsidies and other factors, electric vehicle startups are sprouting throughout the country in hard-to-believe numbers. It is thought that China is home to upwards of 500 NEV startups, and as these companies are beginning to discover, building hybrid and electric vehicles isn’t easy.
In a move which may help improve the quality of budget NEVs, the government is looking to eliminate subsidies for shorter-range NEVs. Only time will tell if that’s enough to fix the issues.