By Max Clarke

The drive- both globally and in the UK- towards lower CO2 emissions is driving innovation in electric car manufacturers, particularly in China, a World Bank report reveals.

Driven by four global megatrends–reducing CO2 emissions, oil concerns, growing congestion, and rapid technology advances–countries worldwide are focusing strongly on vehicleelectrification with China emerging as an important test-bed for innovation

Government subsidies in electric vehicle manufacturers in the UK, including Nissan’s LEAF vehicle plant in Sunderland, is driving up production and sales, prompting talk of an Electric Car Revolution. With many of the constituent components being sourced from China, this translates to a massive increase in investment in China’s technology firms.

“From policy to technology to new business models, China is innovating on all the building blocks needed to successfully deploy electric vehicles,” said Ede Ijjasz, Sustainable Development Manager for the World Bank in China and Mongolia. He continued, “China’s plan for US$15 billion in government investment in vehicle electrification is remarkable and second to none. However, many regions worldwide are now moving quickly to realize the opportunities of electrified mobility. We hope that our findings can help other countries as well, as they move toward a more sustainable transport growth model.”

The study estimates that global sales of plug-in vehicle will likely comprise 10 percent of new vehicle sales by 2020. This rapid growth is expected to usher in a new global electric vehicle era estimated to be worth US $250 billion worldwide in ten years creating unprecedented opportunities across the transport sector. Yet, China and other countries face steep challenges in promoting electric vehicles.

Despite the cetral role China is playing in the development of the vehicles, it has yet to embrace the technologies withing its own market. Petrol car sales continue to increase as environmental conditions deteriorate. Robert Earley, Program Manager for the World Bank’s Low Carbon Transportation Program comments:

“As China builds its grid, it needs to ensure that vehicles become part of the low-carbon, renewable energy system to foster lower carbon emissions from the transport sector.”