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The Future of Electric Two-wheelers and Electric Vehicles in China

UCD-ITS-RP-08-26

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Suggested Citation:
Weinert, Jonathan X., Joan M. Ogden, Daniel Sperling, Andrew Burke (2008) The Future of Electric Two-wheelers and Electric Vehicles in China. Energy Policy In Press

The method of force field analysis is used to examine the future technological and market evolution of electric two-wheelers (E2W) in China. The authors identify key forces driving and resisting future E2W market growth, root causes behind these forces, and important insights about the likelihood of a wide shift to larger three- and four-wheel electric vehicles (EV). The authors conclude that the key forces driving E2W market growth are: improvements in E2W and battery technology due to product modularity and modular industry structure, strong local regulatory support in the form of gasoline-powered motorcycle bans and loose enforcement of E2W standards, and deteriorating bus public transit service. The largest forces resisting E2W market growth are strong demand for gasoline-powered motorcycles, bans on E2Ws due to safety concerns in urban areas, and growing support for public transit. The balance of these forces appears to favor E2W market growth. This growth will likely drive vehicle electrification through continued innovation in batteries and motors, the switch from lead-acid to Li-ion batteries in E2Ws, and the development of larger E2Ws and EVs. There are however strong forces resisting vehicle electrification, including battery cost, charging infrastructure, and inherent complications with large battery systems.