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China Pours Billions Into Electric Cars, Hybrids

Chinese EV

China, that contradictory land of coal, smog, and renewable energy, may be on the verge of leadership in another green technology sector: electric and hybrid vehicles. The Chinese government announced today a plan to invest up to $15 billion in a state-run venture that will research, develop, and generate standards for upcoming hybrids and EVs. The venture will also put millions of electric cars on the road in the coming years, according to The New York Times.

The news will come as no surprise to anyone who follows the Chinese vehicle market. GM recently teamed up with Chinese state-controlled automaker SAIC to develop fuel-efficient engines and transmissions, for example, and we declared Chinese car company BYD as one of our Most Innovative Companies this year.

Electric vehicle infrastructure startup Better Place has also placed its chips on China. "We always said we want China to get in on [the battery switch] system because it creates a de facto standard," Better Place CEO Shai Agassi told Fast Company last month. "China going electric decreases the price of EVs for everyone."

It doesn't hurt that Asia has an ever-expanding middle class that is expected to spend $32 trillion by 2030. China has the perfect storm of cash, consumers, and a willful government. It's hard to compete with that—as the U.S. may be about to find out.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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  • Chris Reich

    This is where I get very confused.

    Excuse the generalization, but I cringe when those on the right (mostly) say that the whole green thing or global warming thing is a big plot to ruin our economy.

    We are missing the opportunity of a generation but not going into new, clean energy technologies with both feet. Chine is now the largest producer in the world for solar panels. Why isn't the U.S. dominating that market? Ask 100 people to name a Hybrid vehicle and most will say Prius. Name an American hybrid vehicle? Few could.

    If Obama talks about a green and profitable economy, it's equated by the right as socialism.

    If we don't separate these insane ideologies from our thinking we'll soon be sinking.

    Al Gore is the real culprit. Had global warming been associated with anyone else, we'd have a chance. But even the slightest conservation is dismissed because Al Gore is the father of the issue. And people can't separate their distaste for Al Gore's politics from the inconvenient truths in his message.

    Let's get with it.

    Chris Reich

  • Scott Byorum

    I guarantee you that within 20 years China will be dictating global policy while the Republicans and Democrats squabble about whose fault it is. We are in decline and in denial.