China to Dwarf US Car Sales in 7 Years

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The government of China said Tuesday morning that it expects its annual automobile production output to reach 30 million by 2020 and 35 million by 2025. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and two other government agencies also plan to boost output and sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) to 2 million units by 2020.

China is currently the world’s largest market for new car sales. Some 28 million cars were sold in China last year, and if the country should reach 35 million units by 2025, that would be nearly double the 17.5 million units sold in the United States last year.

The country’s focus on NEVs, a category that includes battery electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell cars, would quadruple between 2016 sales of 507,000 NEVs to some 2 million by 2020. In January, MIIT chief Miao Wei said that the ministry expects one in every five cars sold in China in 2025 to be an NEV.

The 35 million-unit target includes increased sales in overseas markets. Last year Chinese-built electric vehicles were sold in more than 30 countries by carmakers BYD, Geely and BAIC.

The government built 100,000 public charging stations in 2016 to bring the country’s total to 150,000. Another 800,000 charging stations are on tap for this year, including 100,000 more public charging points.

China also plans to relax its rules on foreign ownership in joint-venture carmakers. Current rules require at least a 50-50 joint venture with a Chinese firm in order for foreign carmakers to build cars in China. The government said the restriction would be eased “in an orderly manner.” No time frame was given nor was the amount of a maximum stake that a foreign company would be allowed to own.

The government’s plan also includes increasing the overall share of Chinese brands in the global market, but it did not specify a target either in units or market share.