Date: 09/17/2019 – Author: Sandra Brajkovic
Reading time: 5 minutes

With around two million electric vehicles on its streets, China is setting an unsurpassable pace for the entire automobile industry. Yet the Middle Kingdom is nowhere near slowing down. With help from the government and exciting joint ventures, the population’s general interest in electric mobility as well as financial and non-financial incentives, China is rising to be the world’s capital of electric transportation. In addition to China’s big players, the country is also home to a staggering number of 500 registered start-ups looking to challenge U.S. giant Tesla. No matter who wins the race, they will all need power on the go. That’s why the Chinese government is making sure that the next charging station will always be within reach. After all, a thought-out public charging infrastructure is essential for successfully expanding the world’s biggest electric vehicle market.

(© 2019 Getty Images)

One million charging stations throughout China – and more to come

By 2020 the number of battery fueled vehicles in China is supposed to rise to the astonishing number of 5 million – the current number of all electric cars on our planet today. The Chinese government plans to match the number of electric cars with nearly the same number of charging stations. By 2020, about 4.8 million stations should be in operation. One-fifth of the government’s goal has already been reached. According to official information, the number of charging stations in China surpassed 1 million in mid 2019 — with 412,000 of these charging stations being public, while 590,000 are private.

China vs. the rest of the world: A nonexistent competition

What seems like an arms race can’t be one, for it has no noteworthy competition. For comparison, China’s reported 11,205 new charging stations per month roughly equal the number of all charging stations available in Germany in 2018. If EU countries deliver on their plan, by the year of 2020, the ratio will be around 10 electric vehicles per public charging point. The density of charging points is concentrated in four countries: the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the UK. While these countries only account for 27 percent of overall area in the European Union, 76 percent of all charging points are located within the four countries. According to the Department of Energy, things are not looking much better on the other side of the globe: The US has about 67,000 public charging points in total.

Promoting adoption of electric mobility: How does China do it?

In their effort to cut greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2020, the Chinese government has come up with incentives to make owning an electric car more attractive. One of which is the fact that it’s way easier to obtain a license plate for a new energy vehicle than a conventional car. Also drivers of electric cars are never affected by the driving bans put in place whenever the air quality drops below the average. The Chinese government is also making sure the density of charging points shows a constant improvement in order to quell fears of electric car drivers and potential buyers.

Cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen are required to provide one charge point to every eight electric cars. These stations cannot be further than one kilometer from any point within the city center. The municipal governments in these cities have also collaborated with the national utility State Grid to fund many of the local charging points. Furthermore, automobile manufacturers have seen their chance to gain brand loyalty from drivers of their cars, as well as potential buyers by contributing charging stations near their headquarters. By 2020, all new residential constructions are to be equipped with charging points, as well as 10 percent of parking spaces in large public buildings.

(© 2019 Getty Images)

Seven Chinese Companies empower the country’s electric transportation

China’s charging points have the highest density in the big cities, but the expansions include most of China’s provinces and major highway corridors. The highest charging volume has been recorded in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as in Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Hubei, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Zhejiang provinces. Some of the charging stations amounted to a volume of some 359 million kWh in May 2019, empowering the 380,000 electric buses used for public transport, followed by passenger EVs, electric sanitation vehicles, and electric taxis.

Just as concentrated as the cities with the highest numbers of charging stations is the number of companies who operate them. Only seven Chinese companies accounted for 90.8 percent of all stations under operation across China, having more than 10,000 charging stations each:

  • Qingdao Teld New Energy Co., Ltd with 131,000 units
  • State Grid Corporation of China with 88,000 units
  • Star Charge with 83,000 units
  • EV Power with 21,000 units
  • AnYo Charging with 17,000 units
  • Potevio with 14,000 units; and
  • Shenzhen Car Energy Network with 10,000 units.

Didi and BP: A promising joint venture for China’s charging stations

(© 2019 Getty Images)

Another promising way of maintaining a dense network of electric charging stations is the joint venture of China’s ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing and British oil giant British Petroleum, BP. The numerous charging points will be usable by both Didi drivers and the general population. The main goal is to become China’s top provider for charging electric vehicles. The numbers combined in this joint venture look promising: Didi has about 550 million users and 600,000 electric vehicles. Linked with State Grid in China, they have connected their drivers to 50,000 charging stations.

“Made in China 2025”: A country’s determination to succeed

The government’s effort to make electric mobility desirable to consumers is not only a way to tackle the country’s pollution problems, but a part of the government’s initiative program “Made in China 2025.” The country is pushing for leadership not just in electric mobility and clean energy, but also in robotics and information technology. China is hoping to finally transition from an emerging country to one of the most powerful industrial nations on earth. Considering the high speed at which the country is developing and keeping to its schedule, the outlook of this future industrial nation is looking quite prominent. After all, it managed to reach its goal of cutting 40 percent of green house emissions by 2020 three years ahead of time in 2017.

Also worth reading: Why China is the key player in the future of electric mobility