California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. and California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary D. Nichols met with officials of China’s leading automakers and battery manufacturers in an effort to expand cooperation and accelerate deployment of zero-emission cars, trucks and buses.
At the close of the meeting, Governor Brown and Chair Nichols agreed to establish a new working group through the China-US ZEV Policy Lab at UC Davis to expand cooperation with Chinese zero-emission vehicle and battery technology companies. The lab is a partnership established in 2014 between UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies and the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC).
The meeting included officials from Chinese automakers such as BYD, Beijing Auto Group, Great Wall, Geely, Dongfeng Xiao Kang, Yangtze Motors and a half dozen other vehicle and battery companies. Discussions with the companies centered on plans for developing new models of zero-emission vehicles and support needed to enter the US market.
China now accounts for more than 40% of plug-in vehicles (from two-wheelers to buses) sold in the world, according to a recent report from the IEA. (Earlier post.) California accounts for more than 50% of sales in the United States. China’s production of zero-emission vehicles has skyrocketed over the past two years.
In California, the transportation sector is responsible for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and is also by far the largest source of smog-causing pollution and fine particle pollution. With the nation’s largest market for cars and light-duty trucks, California pioneered regulations to clean up emissions, including a zero-emission vehicle initiative that dates back to 1990.
Today, some 37 different battery-powered, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell electric vehicle models are available in California. As of March, California had more than 280,000 zero-emission vehicles on the roads, and the Governor has set a goal of putting 1.5 million ZEVs on the roads by 2025 and 4-5 million by 2030.
California’s market has shown strong growth recently, with ZEVs accounting for more than 10% of new vehicles in 16 California cities in 2016, according to a recent analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation. In the first quarter of 2017, ZEVs accounted for nearly 5% of new car sales statewide.
China, which faces well-documented air quality challenges, is likewise strongly committed to deploying zero-emission vehicles, or “new energy vehicles.” China is expected to announce a ZEV credit policy this year modeled after California’s program resulting from collaborative efforts led by the China-US ZEV Policy Lab.
Since 2014, ZEV sales in China have increased nearly sevenfold to 509,000 vehicles in 2016, making China the largest market and strongest driver of global market growth. A national “road map” for the country’s auto market aims for ZEVs to account for at least 20% of total vehicle sales by 2025, or about 7 million vehicles a year.
In order to achieve California’s climate goals, we need more electric cars and more hydrogen fuel cell cars that are charged with renewable energy. We welcome any Chinese technology that will help us achieve these goals. We have a very tall hill to climb and we want to introduce clean technologies as quickly as possible. We need a great leap forward.—Governor Brown