China is expected to report aggregate sales of more than 1.7 million new energy cars (NEVs) from January to August this year, double the number from the same period last year. Policymakers will implement economic initiatives to stimulate growth in the sector and combat the chip shortage that has hampered production, said Xin Guobin, the vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), at an industry forum held by China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) on Saturday.
While the growth for NEV sales is impressive, these vehicles still make up a minority in new purchases. Overall auto sales in the first eight months are expected to surpass 16 million, said Xin. The vice minister also pointed out that the global chip shortage will continue to weigh down China’s auto manufacturing industry.
Deliveries of major Chinese EV brands dropped in August due to the lack of semiconductors. Nio delivered 5,880 vehicles in August, down from 7,931 in July. The company cited the chip crunch prompted by the pandemic as the key reason for its sagged numbers. Nio also said it has received record-high new orders in the past month.
Another leading EV company, Xpeng, also witnessed a delivery drop from 8,040 vehicles in July to 7,214 in August.
Xin said at the CATARC conference that the country will secure a supply of key raw materials—including lithium, cobalt, and nickel—to shore up domestic auto production capabilities.
Last year, China announced its master plan for the next 15 years. This included a bid to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and execute the ambition of becoming a global leader in the EV industry.
The China Society of Automotive Engineers estimates that by 2035, NEV sales will account for half of new car sales and driverless cars will be common on public roads.
Chinese internet giants are flocking into this sector and making preparations to develop NEV production units. Baidu’s intelligent driving arm, Apollo, said in January that it will produce electric vehicles in partnership with Geely, a major automaker in China. Huawei is also reportedly seeking a controlling stake in conventional carmaker Chongqing Jinkang so the company can produce its own intelligent vehicles, according to Reuters.
Last week, smartphone maker Xiaomi officially set up its auto-making arm with RMB 10 billion (USD 1.5 billion) in starting capital. It has already mapped out production plans. In recent months, Xiaomi has invested in and acquired multiple firms, including a Lidar maker, an auto-parking developer, and even a producer of cobalt-free batteries.
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