China has emerged as the global powerhouse in electric vehicle manufacturing and sales. But there might be a dark side to its rise. A recent video showcases enormous fields filled with thousands of abandoned Chinese electric cars.
The scene appears eerie as the white paint is tainted by layers of dust and tires partly covered by encroaching grass. Inside, they appear spanking new, as the plastic seat wraps are untouched and the screens still shining.
They all have registration plates. YouTuber Winston Sterzel, who reshared the drone footage, alleges that Chinese EV makers register the cars and claim to have sold them to show numbers and obtain subsidies from the government.
One caption, translated to English, reads “BYD inventory flooded, 600 cars waiting to be processed.” In a related video, a registration form reveals the size of the plot where the surplus inventory is left to rust in Hangzhou. The field is over 15,000 square meters in size, and the nature of the property is “commercial business.”
The Atlantic reported similar incidents in 2018 in Shanghai, the country’s largest city and a global financial hub, but with regard to bicycles. The publication said that after bike sharing reached its peak in 2017 in China, supply vastly outpaced demand. The result was mountain-sized heaps of brightly colored surplus bicycles.
The abandoned cars may have undergone a similar fate. So take the YouTuber's allegations with a pinch of salt. They reportedly belong to a failed car-sharing service called Microcity, which had thousands of Kandi 11 models, as documented by the Chinese state-owned newspaper People's Daily.
Multiple car-rental businesses failed during the same period in China, which could explain the existence of these car cemeteries.
Also, note that some of the drone footage is over two years old, while some local reports of cars lying abandoned are from 2019. It's unclear what the current state of the EV graveyard is, and if any action was ever taken to bring these vehicles back to life.