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More Asian countries to follow China in EV race

China has emerged as the world’s largest automotive market according to Pike Research. The country is positioned to become a “significant exporter” of EV’s in the next years. A report from CNET says China wants to be “in the driver’s seat” for electric vehicles, and citizens there look at producing EV’s as a prestige and hallmark of most developed countries.

But China is not the only country in Asia making the push for the adoption of more “eco-friendly” and low- to zero-carbon dioxide-emitting, though more expensive, alternatives to conventional internal combustion engine-powered vehicles.

Last year, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation met to discuss the Asia-Pacific region’s electric vehicle future, with auto manufacturers, regulators and policymakers discussing strategies and policies to improve technology and infrastructure necessary for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

“Member economies agree that more electric vehicles on the road will save energy and reduce carbon emissions,” said Phyllis Yoshida, lead shepherd for the APEC Energy Working Group. “The agenda also covers innovations in infrastructure and harmonizing of standards for critical technology components.”

China’s geographical neighbors – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan – including India and even Indonesia, have shown interest in electric vehicles – both all-electric and hybrid electric.

Japan has included a provision in its new economic growth strategy for 2020 to make environmentally friendly vehicles account for 80 percent of car sales.

Toyota, the country’s largest automaker, is of course one of the largest companies pushing hybrid vehicles in the market and the first to commercially mass-produce and sell them, notably the Prius. Its luxury counterpart, Lexus, has its own hybrid lineup as well. This year, Toyota unveiled three variants of the Prius – which itself received an upgrade – the smaller and cheaper Prius c, the five-door wagon Prius V and the plug-in hybrid version

Honda is releasing hybrid EV iterations CR-Z Sport Hybrid, Civic Hybrid, Fit Hybrid, Insight Hybrid, the Fuel Cell-powered FCX Clarity EV, and an all-electric version of the Fit.

South Korea

In South Korea, automobile giant Hyundai and affiliate Kia released a few of their own new hybrid models for the U.S. market – the former its mid-size Sonata and the latter the similarly-sized Optima.

For the country’s domestic market, manufacturers have just started making electric vehicles after the government announced support. Kia Motors and Renault Samsung Motors, the country’s unit of French carmaker Renault S.A., have both expressed interest.

Kia released the all-electric version of the compact Ray earlier this year, and will be supplying 2,500 units to public agencies this year. It will start mass producing for the public in 2013. Renault Samsung also released an all-electric version of the SM3, or the SM3 ZE, the South Korean version of Renault’s Fluence ZE. Production will also begin next year.


India has a $4.1 billion plan plan to put 6 million “green” vehicles on its streets by 2020 despite its power problems. Their goal is being compared to China’s target of 500,000 EV’s in 2016 – as a similarly ambitious plan.

Concerns about power in the country are still there though, as the massive blackouts in July are still fresh in the minds of many. Analysts say pushing for EV’s would be of little sense without pushing for better power infrastructure first.

Nevertheless, the government looks to focus more on technology that will allow EV charging using renewable energy, the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles told Financial Times. “R&D [funding] is going to focus on trying to use renewable power to power these vehicles,” the group’s president said. “We’ve already done work on solar panels to charge electric vehicles – we’ve done that, but just need to get the investment.”

Indonesia’s government is creating its own electric vehicle industry, with local, homegrown engineers designing prototypes to battle competition from Japanese carmakers, which have dominated the country’s auto industry. Mass production is hoped to begin next year, though some regulations may be needed.

“If the infrastructure is ready, we can start mass producing the car with a capacity of 5,000 units per year,” state enterprise minister Dahlan Iskan told the state-run Antara news agency. “We should now focus on quality, quality and quality. It’s my hope that quality will no longer be a concern in August and after that, we can talk about the cost.” (N.P. Arboleda)

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