Biz Quick Take: Biden's vow to 're-win' electric vehicle race actually an acknowledgement of China's NEV progress
Published: Feb 10, 2022 12:03 AM
Photo: VCG

File Photo: VCG

US President Joe Biden tweeted on Tuesday that "China has been leading the electric vehicle race but that is about to change," adding that his administration is planning to build "a convenient, reliable, equitable national public charging network."

The tweet has been widely discussed on social media. Several netizens lamented the fact that the US has fallen behind in the new-energy vehicles (NEVs) race since 2015 and were quick to point out some of the administration's current policies, such as visa restrictions on foreign STEM talents and burdensome student loans, are behind the current situation. Biden's energy policy and the rising inflation were also among the issues raised under his post. 

To some extent, Biden's tweet can be seen as an acknowledgement to China's progress in NEVs, which has contributed handsomely to a green and low-carbon future for mankind.

As a matter of fact, China's lead in NEVs is multifold, including electric and hybrid cars and fuel-cell vehicles.

Last year's export figures are one gauge that reveals the progress. Despite the shock of the pandemic on the supply chain and a global chip shortage, China exported 310,000 NEVs in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 300 percent. In terms of sales, 3.52 million NEVs were sold and official estimates put 2022 sales at even higher levels, at 5 million units.

Regarding charging poles, China has increased its charging network to 1.68 million units in 2020, from 66,000 units in 2015. The US, in comparison, has some 120,000 charging ports according to data from the US Department of Energy in September 2021. 

China achieved its global lead by opening up its market to the world's best companies. The example of how Tesla, a leading US-based electric car manufacturer, set up a wholly owned subsidiary and completed its Gigafactory in Shanghai in a remarkably quick manner, is already well-known.

Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, replied to Biden's tweet with a list of EV sales ranking with Tesla as the top vendor in 2021. For some reason, Tuesday was also the first time, since taking office, that Biden publicly mentioned Tesla, the world's most valuable automaker.

The company, which recently opened up a showroom in Urumqi, its first store in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, also built a 2,600-kilometer-long "Silk Road route" with 11 Tesla charging stations, from Xi'an, in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, to Xinjiang.

Some Chinese netizens noticed how obsessed Biden is with China and challenged him to comment about high-speed railways. 

It is an admirable thing for one to learn the best or the most successful skills from others. China, for its part, has been humble in learning about green transport technology from its neighbors. But, to turn to rhetoric and politically charged slogans is less admirable.

The goal of China has never been to surpass the US but to constantly surpass itself and become a better version of itself.

How the US develops itself and enhances its competitiveness is its own business, but it should not make a fuss out of China.