BYD e6 electric taxi in service in Shenzhen, ChinaEnlarge Photo
Another longtime observer of the Chinese auto market, Alysha Webb, broadly agreed with Dunne, but said that rules will likely change over time and the path may not be clearcut—in fact, it may be decidedly rocky for all makers—as the country figures out its policy on the fly.
In response to our questions, she wrote:
I really think the Western media has misrepresented this as something that is going to happen soon, and something completely new.
As the saying goes, "China makes policy by crossing the river [and] feeling for the stones." This is a goal. It fits in with the overall trajectory of its EV policies.
It may require foreign automakers to hand over some intellectual property, though I suspect there will be a lot of argument about that with the foreign automakers. China already requires the battery to be from a local manufacturer, so that would be a logical move.
2014 Tesla Model S in ChinaEnlarge Photo
And, she warned for emphasis:
While the comment by the [ministry] official is encouraging, policy making in China is very complex and one comment by one official does not a policy make.
Those who think such a ban will occur any time soon, or that it will be a complete ban that is vigorously enforced, need only study the implementation and enforcement of the emissions requirements for vehicles to see that these things take time and don't happen exactly as planned.
There are many regional and local interests that affect the implementation, not to mention the need for other central government bureaucracies to buy in to the policy.
To sum up, a ban of some kind is likely to move forward at some point.
There will be a huge amount of behinds-the-scene politicking, both by national and local government agencies and the businesses affected by the proposed rules, including the joint ventures half-owned by global automakers as well as China's native auto companies.
Chevrolet Volt arrives in China for use at World Expo 2010 ShanghaiEnlarge Photo
Enforcement may be selective, and it may vary nationally and regionally depending on which state governments own shares in which automakers (a common practice in China).
Perhaps the last word comes from an impassioned comment by Green Car Reports reader Ye Wang. (We've lightly edited his comment for clarity and style.)
I have said it before, and let me say it again: if China has the resolve to do things, things get done, and done fast! Plentiful examples in the past few decades: economic reform, high speed trains, space programs etc.
There are many reasons behind this green energy/transportation transformation. I think the main reasons are (a) global warming is real, it greatly destroys China's local environment after [the country has been the world's factory for three decades; (b) autocracy and common sense.
As one television commentator might say, "Watch this space."