China is doing everything it can to clamp down on air pollution. Earlier this year, it deployed colossal, smog-sucking cannons around major cities in a direct attempt to clean the air. The experiment showed that the country is running out of options in the long-term fight against dangerous gases.
To reduce car emissions on the road, officials have turned to local electric vehicle startups. Despite persistent road congestion, it’s not practical to promote cycling or walking. No one wants to expose themselves to smoke, and one of the best ways to avoid breathing in pollution is to stay indoors or in a moving chamber, like buses and trains. Currently, the two groups pioneering the EV space in China are Kandi and Geely Automobile. Tesla hasn’t been able to penetrate the region successfully, simply because its offerings can’t compete effectively in the mass market.
The demand for sustainable cars in China is on the rise. According to projections from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), sales are on the way to reaching 250,000 by the end of Q4 2015. If the country hits this target, it will become the top consumer of EVs in the world, surpassing the U.S. for the first time. “China’s new energy vehicle sector has seen explosive growth in the past two years, due to the central government’s support policies, including subsidies and tax cuts,” wrote Environment News Service. “In the first 10 months, sales of electric cars surged 290 percent year to year to 171,145, CAAM data showed.”
Pioneers in the industry want to push the emerging trend to levels that are unheard of in the small sector. To help address the growing air pollution problem in the country, Kandi Electric Vehicles created a car-sharing program that will use a squadron of 1,000 electric cars. The initiative will first launch in Tianjin, the fourth largest city in China. With over 15 million local residents, the city ranks comfortably behind Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou in the country’s overall population count.
On the other side of the world, Montreal also announced a similar car-sharing program that involves thousands of EVs. The country hopes to launch their movement by 2020. “Montreal mayor Denis Coderre has announced that he wants to see Montreal become a leader in electric transportation, which would be part of a larger play to slash the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by a third over the next 5 years,” wrote Michael Richard from Tree Hugger.
Meanwhile, the deadline for the arrival of the K10 fleet in Tianjin is due in the coming weeks. With a range of 93 miles on a single charge, Tianjin will be able to gradually offset its reliance on gas. The program is a great start to promoting sustainable practices, but the country is still far from addressing the main issue, which is power generation. China’s grid heavily relies on coal for power. In the EV cycle, cars have to plug into the grid to charge their batteries. So from a grand perspective, the vehicles are only a Band-Aid to a much larger problem.