Two factoids from the Washington Post:
Domestic sales for cars and sport-utility vehicles in China passed a million a month in November 2009 — on an annual basis that’s 12 million cars, which could be more than the U.S. in this recession year.
China is also on track to 20 million new electric bikes sold in 2009, “if trends hold from 2007 and 2008, when 20 million e-bikes were sold each year. E-bikes are proving most popular in Beijing and other big cities, where some commuters are realizing that owning a car may bring a certain prestige as a sign of affluence but also comes with gasoline prices, parking fees, the odd traffic ticket and the notorious traffic jams. [...] Besides the lower costs for parking, and the convenience of whipping quickly through intersections, she said she spends far less on maintenance than she did on a car. E-bikes need their batteries recharged overnight, and the battery typically lasts about a year before needing to be replaced. They are also relatively inexpensive, from about $219 for the smallest models to about $366 for the largest, fastest variety.
“The real sweet spot will be if China’s e-bike explosion leads to the development of electric cars and the infrastructure for charging these e-vehicles,” said Alex Wang of the Natural Resources Defense Council office in Beijing, and an avid e-biker. “China is probably better positioned to make this leap than any other country in the world.”
We agree with Alex Wang’s point — China, with its low cost basic vehicle platforms is very well positioned to take advantage of good enough batteries and move more swiftly to electrification than U.S. auto companies appear to be, a point discussed extensively in Turning Oil into Salt.