China is entering a new phase of economic development, with a focus on achieving more sustainable growth. Faster adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is widely seen as an effective way to reduce China’s growing dependence on imported oil, relieve pollution in congested urban areas, and help domestic OEMs and suppliers to gain a competitive edge over their stronger international rivals.

Yet, despite having invested more than RMB 37 billion in various forms of subsidies to OEMs, suppliers, consumers and researchers, China lags behind other leading markets in the development of its EV industry ecosystem. China has also missed its own targets for EV sales, infrastructure roll-out, and technology.

This paper looks at the current EV ecosystem in China, and highlights potential lessons that can be drawn from successful experience in other countries. It then seeks to frame a set of questions and options to inform discussions about the policy framework required to enable the development of electric vehicles in China. This paper does not make or imply recommendations for action by government or industry players.