China Auto Show: China Doesn’t Care About Hybrids According to Honda, and Electric Cars Nonesense According to Maserati

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If you look at any Chinese government white paper on the future of the auto industry in China you will find that they wistfully look to ‘new energy vehicles’ as the end all solution to China’s car and pollution problem. New Energy includes electricity, LPG and Hydrogen amongst other flavors but the EV is the big favorite due to the storage solutions of hydrogen, not that electricity is any much easier to store. Chinese manufacturers like BYD have put out hybrid and EV models in the Chinese market but sales are so poor that they are barely making a dent, only deep pocketed companies and government agencies are buying them up, and only buying them at a slow rate.

Honda’s CEO has finally come to the conclusion that Chinese customers aren’t interested in hybrids as of yet, but he fails to come to a conclusion:

“Overall, we have high hopes for hybrid technology. In terms of how important it is to the Chinese market we are slowly releasing products and looking at how they do,” Mr. Ito told reporters in Shanghai on Saturday. “But we think there are still more Chinese consumers who want to simply buy a car that fits their needs rather than buy a hybrid. By needs I mean a good-quality car with an affordable price that doesn’t break down. At present, we think these take higher priority.”

Perhaps Mr. Takanobu should think further along the lines as to why Chinese consumers aren’t buying hybrids from Honda or elsewhere – and that’s because they are far more expensive than their gasoline variants. A regular gasoline Honda Fit costs circa 75,000RMB, where as the hybrid Fit is just under 180,000RMB – the difference in running a petrol version for around 7 years or buying a larger car and having a running budget for 2 to 3 years of use.

Maserati boss Harald Wester did not share Mr. Takanobu’s enlightened views on hybrids and EV’s at the Shanghai Auto Show, he simply called all electric vehicles ‘nonsense’:

Maserati boss Harald Wester has described electrically powered cars as “nonsense”, saying regulatory bodies need to take a more realistic approach to how they measure emissions before pushing through regulations that favor them.

Citing statistics that suggest average power station efficiency means the average electric car requires 86g of CO2 to be produced to travel a kilometer in Europe, 110g/km in the USA and 191g/km in China.

Wester said: “All this discussion about zero emissions is nonsense. Nobody talks about the efficiency of how the battery is charged. It varies strongly from region to region, depending on how the energy is produced, nuclear, coal and so on, but even the best is not ahead of the internal combustion engine.”

About the author  ⁄ Ash

China Car Times is the number one portal for the latest information, statistics, and industry information on the Chinese automotive industry. Over the past six years of operation we have seen the Chinese auto market grow from a backwater of old European models to the world's largest auto market with the world's leading technology being delivered here first. You can connect with China Car Times founder and Editor Ash Sutcliffe by clicking on the Linkedin logo, you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus via the relevant icons


  • April 24, 2013

    Here, here. I’ve been quoting figures like those for the CO2 emissions of electric cars for ages. An electric car is only as green as your electricity supply. You are simply shifting local pollution to more centralised pollution. And in the case of CO2 it all adds up in the atmosphere no matter where it’s produced.

  • Gerald
    April 24, 2013

    Mr. Wester has a good point. Also need to consider the environmental impact of the batteries once they are at the end of their service life.

  • Gerald
    May 9, 2013

    I’ve been noticing a good number of new Camry Hybrids on the roads here.

    The starting price of 259,800 seems reasonable (for China).

    The Prius is even cheaper now that it’s locally produced, however it doesn’t seem as popular. I suppose the quirkiness is a turn-off to Chinese consumers.

    I’ve also noticed a good number of Lexus CT200h as well, and I would say over half of the new Lexus ES that I see are of the hybrid type (ES 300h).

    So it would seem that hybrids are gaining in popularity here, well at least the ones from Toyota/Lexus. There are ads in the elevators of my apartment building for the Acura ILX hybrid, but have yet to see one in person.

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