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Forget Tesla—can anyone stop China’s electric-car effort?
Our field guide this week tackles something big: the global auto industry. It generates $2 trillion in annual revenue, and it’s getting ready for disruption thanks to the revival of the electric car.
At the mention of “electric car,” you probably think of Tesla and Elon Musk. But a bigger story is unfolding in China—with an effort that’s many times the size of Tesla—and one that’s being paid for by the Chinese government.
Between 2009 and 2017, it’s estimated the government has spent as much as $60 billion, with a goal of creating a new domestic industry and accelerating the world’s transition to a more sustainable form of transport. And it’s now looking to spend at least as much over the next decade.
By the digits
- 1 million: the number of electric vehicles China will sell in 2018—more than the rest of the world combined.
- 29.4 million metric tons: greenhouse-gas emissions avoided by the use of electric vehicles in 2017. That’s equal to the emissions of the whole of Mongolia in the same year.
- 250 million: the total number of electric two-wheelers in China in 2017.
- 81%: the proportion of global greenhouse-gas emissions avoided that can be attributed to Chinese electric two-wheelers.
- 380 GWh: the battery capacity of Chinese companies by 2021—more than 60% of the world’s battery-production capacity. It will be enough to power 5 million Tesla Model S cars (or many more millions of cars with smaller batteries).
What happens to the auto industry affects the world. As the author Levi Tillemann puts it: “The automobile’s importance to growth, trade, innovation, military technology, and the environment is, for practical purposes, immeasurable. The industry is a point of national pride, a center for manufacturing employment, and an instrument of state power for the world’s most technologically advanced economies—much more so than most people realize.”
Could China can win the race to own the electric-car industry? Find out today in our field guide.
There’s way more to come
From motorbikes to government surveillance to self-driving systems and more, we’ll explore the many dimensions of China’s automotive revolution with Ashkat Rathi and Echo Huang, our two intrepid reporters who have been traveling across Asia and Europe to report out this fast-moving story. Stay tuned for a lot more.
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Hope you have a rewarding day,
Quartz membership editor