International car makers put the eyes on the booming electric vehicle market in China as Shanghai autoshow kicked off on Wednesday. Ivor Bennett reports.
Last year just 2 percent of the 28 million vehicles sold in China were electric. But that hasn't stopped foreign carmakers like Jaguar Land Rover pushing hard for a slice of the market. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JAGUAR LAND ROVER TECHNICAL DESIGN DIRECTOR WOLFGANG ZIEBART SAYING: "China for electric vehicles is the first the largest market in the world and the second most dynamic market in the world. So it's very, very important and what we see is that in particular the luxury EV market is developing well here in China." Numerous battery electric and plug-in hybrid models are on show at the Shanghai Autoshow. Foreign carmakers are only too aware that pollution-hit China is charging ahead with its own plans to electrify vehicles. And that's despite the scaling back of state subsidies. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VOLKSWAGEN SALES CHIEF JUERGEN STACKMANN SAYING: "The Chinese government has actually put electric sort of mobility as key theme for the industry and the strength of the industry in this country. As we are market leader today, we see ourselves at excellent position to remain market leader." Most electric cars in China are produced domestically. They're relatively cheap with limited range. But the market could be about to expand. The government's threatening to tighten fuel-efficiency regulations and could even penalize automakers who don't boost sales of so-called "new energy vehicles". The latest draft policy also hinted at electric auto sales targets of 12 percent by 2020. Combine that with an overall market set to grow at around five percent this year and you can see why most companies have joined the race too.