Here in the U.S. the government, both at the federal and state level, offers an array of incentives for eco friendly vehicles such as clean diesels, plug-in hybrids and electric cars. However, the U.S. isn’t the only major automotive market with such incentive programs in place.
Over in China the local government has drafted its own ‘New Energy Vehicle Development Plan’ designed to promote the proliferation of green cars, specifically electric cars and plug-in hybrids. The plan calls for the investment of up to $15 billion in R&D spending, as well as the development of electric car infrastructure and buyer incentive programs similar to tax credit rebates offered here in the U.S.
However, where China’s program differs significantly to the one here in the U.S. is that eligible vehicles will have to be manufactured in China, either by a Chinese firm or in a joint venture with a Chinese firm. Additionally, the Chinese firm must also have intellectual property rights and "mastery" of one of three key components: the motor, battery or power electronics.
This means that vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, which is currently built exclusively in the U.S., will be excluded from China’s New Energy Vehicle Development Plan.
Understandably this has ruffled a few feathers of U.S. senators down in Michigan. Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and Carl Levin of Detroit, for example, have already written to trade representatives to help alleviate what they call discriminatory practices by the Chinese government.
This would leave the Chevrolet Volt, which goes on sale in China towards the end of the year, at a disadvantage to locally built vehicles, and this in turn could even hamper the rollout of plug-in hybrids and electric cars in the market.