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China should take technology-neutral stance in NEV roadmap

– by Huang Chunmian

The Energy-Saving and New Energy Vehicle Development Plan (2012-2020) (NEV Plan), which was approved by the State Council in April and expected to be officially released in the near future, will bring some welcome news to hybrid cars.

Zhang Xiangmu, director of Equipment Industry Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a recent conference that the NEV Plan crafts tax incentives for both electric vehicles and energy-saving cars.

According to Zhang, the purchase tax, excise tax and the new vehicle and vessel tax for energy-saving vehicles will be halved between 2012 and 2015.

Hybrids cars have been always downplayed in the drafting of the industry blueprint which was started as early as in 2010. Though the industry has at times voiced support for the hybrid technology route, hybrids never gained traction at the policy-making level.

But the recent string of policies released this year show that hybrid cars are gaining more prominence, though battery EVs still remain the strategic goal of policymaking.

“Hybrid technology is maturing. Hybrid vehicles are commercially available and represent a growing segment in the auto market,” states the Special Plan for Electric Vehicle Technology Development in the 12th Five-Year Plan which was released by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Many industry watchers believe the lowered status of hybrid cars is caused by the dominant position of hybrid technology leader Toyota. But a source from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology noted that their changed attitude towards the hybrid technology is not a result of PR work by Toyota. The change was made based on the global economy and the country’s top leaders’ understanding of the whole picture of the industry.

According to the source, the top leadership is taking a technology-neutral stance, like the American government. The United States does not design technology routes for the industry. Instead, the government sets up the emission standards and leaves the new energy vehicle products to the market.

The previous BEV-centered roadmap is believed to have put policy makers under pressure for too much intervention in the free market.

China is enhancing regional economic and trade operations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Analysts believe that such regional cooperation requires more market freedom and trade inclination than WTO treaties, which has contradicted the previous non-neutral new energy vehicle technology routes.

(Rewritten by Ray Jing based on author’s article on auto.sina.com)

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