Legacy Automakers Must Comply With China To Top Tesla

JUL 29 2017 BY EVANNEX 8


Tesla Vehicle Lineup Via Preisert Design


The auto industry has a long history of trying to hold back the transition to electric vehicles. When the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated the creation of the first generation of modern EVs in the early 1990s, auto industry lobbyists went to work in the state capital, succeeded in killing the mandate, and quickly ended their EV programs.


All-electric concept cars from Big Auto try to emulate Tesla but have yet to make it into production (Image: L’argus)

After the industry’s near-death experience of 2008-2010, CARB revived its zero-emission-vehicle mandate, and the automakers, even as they built a new generation of EVs, renewed their efforts to have the regulations watered down or eliminated. This time, to date, they have not been successful. Following the 2016 presidential election, the US legacy automakers immediately sent a letter to Washington urging the rollback of federal fuel economy (and safety) standards – the results of that effort are still pending.

The latest example of the automakers can’t-do attitude took the form of a letter to the Chinese government asking it to drastically weaken its zero-emission vehicle mandate, which would force automakers to make zero-emission vehicles 8% of their sales in the country in 2018, increasing to 12% by 2020.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.


China’s growing demand for electric vehicles (Image: Kirill Klip via Bloomberg)

As reported by Automotive News Europe, the letter was sent by trade associations representing just about every major automaker in the world (except Tesla, naturally).

“Because we have common concerns with the proposed NEV [new energy vehicle] rules, we have joined together to offer, with utmost respect, six recommended modifications,” it reads in part. “The proposed rules’ ambitious enforcement date is not possible to meet, and if unchanged would lead to a widespread disruption of the product portfolio of most automakers operating in China. At a minimum, the mandate needs to be delayed a year and include additional flexibilities.”

In addition to delaying the mandate, the automakers want to weaken the penalty system for companies that don’t meet the quotas, and to be awarded credits for plug-in hybrids in addition to pure electrics (unintended consequences of this policy have already been seen in China, where many buyers purchase plug-in SUVs with no intention of ever plugging them in).


Tesla’s Solar Supercharger in China

Meanwhile, some of these same companies, and their apologists in the media, insist that, once they finally decide to commit to electrification, they’re going to easily beat Tesla at its own game. “Anything Tesla can do, we can surpass,” boasted Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess in May. More recently, VW has been comparing its first native electric vehicle, which it plans to launch in Europe in 2019, to Tesla’s Model 3, predicting that it will be $7,000 to $8,000 cheaper.

Wired, among others, has been pushing the Goliaths-will-stomp-David narrative, with a 2016 article about how the Chevy Bolt beat the Tesla Model 3 to market, and a more recent one (April 2017) claiming that Detroit is already winning the race to build the self-driving car. Others do not agree: Bloomberg recently predicted that Tesla would come out on top in the electric car battle, and a German auto industry analyst wrote that Tesla will end up with a “near-monopoly” of the EV market.


Tesla Model X in China

The irony here is monumental. The same companies that are confident they’ll be able to come from behind and surpass Tesla, even though (with the exceptions of GM and Nissan) their “Tesla-beating” EVs won’t be on the market for several years, say that they’re incapable of meeting China’s EV mandate. It sounds like what they’re saying is, “When we get good and ready, we’ll start actually selling some EVs, but not yet, O Lord, not yet!”

What does Elon Musk think about all this? Speaking at the recent National Governors Association meeting, he praised China’s commitment to electric vehicles:

“Probably in ten years, more than half of new vehicle production is electric in the United States. China’s probably going to be ahead of that, because China’s been super-pro-EV. I don’t think a lot of people know this, but China’s environmental policies are way ahead of the US. Their mandate for renewable energy far exceeds the US. Sometimes people are under the impression that China is either dragging their feet or somehow behind the US in terms of sustainable energy promotion, but they are by far the most aggressive on Earth – it’s crazy.”

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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8 Comments on "Legacy Automakers Must Comply With China To Top Tesla"

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Evannex, it is not rocket science…
In early 2017 China told the auto companies that 8% of their sales had to be EVs in 2018…
They were not even given a full years notice with the mandate…
That timing is crazy if you sell hundreds of thousands or millions of cars a year over there…

Frankly there mandate is CRAZY wanting way to much too soon and then stoping the mandate at a pathetic 12%…

It is not crazy. Do not spread half-lies. It’s not like they either sell 8% or die. They do not have to comply. In that case they will just need to pay some penalty which is not going to kill them. They have already made so much money in all those years selling poisonous crap that they can afford it. So don’t cry over those rip offs.

No half lies here as I never said any company would be put under…

8% EV sales is straight up CRAZY with less than a one year lead time…
8% EV sales in China equate to over 2 million EVs…
Not sure who you can order those batteries from with that lead time…

Not crying over anything as it aint my money just stating the obvious…
…and it wont be the Chinese rip offs paying the price it will be the foreign companies in China…

Obviously a product of the failing public schools.

THEIR you simpleton. How can your grammar be this poor?

I champion Chevy for building an electric car and drive a Spark EV. Screw what every other automaker does. Ford is dead when it comes to electric vehicles.

Dino fuel only does one thing, support other counties that aren’t the US. Stop using gasoline to power cars.

I don’t see why China would roll the mandate back. If anything it probably just benefits their domestic car manufacturers.

Exactly what I was thinking. It will benefit both their domestic auto makers and their domestic EV battery manufacturers.

So I fully expect China’s totalitarian leaders to ignore this whining letter from the legacy auto makers. And for once, I’ll cheer them on!

In China, car congestion and environmental pollution are major concerns of the bulk of the population. The life expectancy in the past decade is now not determined by poverty but by the effects of air pollution and smoking. The daily air pollution indices in many of China’s largest cities exceed maximum indicators allowed here in the US. It is a political crisis and reality that pressures the central government.

It also fits with the central governent’s long term objectives to facilitate Chinese manufacturers to become decisively competitive in the world stage.

” ‘Anything Tesla can do, we can surpass,’ boasted Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess in May.”

Sadly for Volkswagen, there are no awards for claiming you’re going to do something but then not making even the slightest attempt to actually follow through. If there was an auto maker’s award for announcing hollow promises and creating vaporware, then VW would easily win every year.