China is the world’s largest investor in new energy vehicles (NEVs). For the past decade, the government has put its might behind developing electric cars, spending billions on consumer-facing subsidies to lower the upfront costs of these vehicles.

These subsidies made China the largest electric vehicle market in the world, growing 450% in the six years ending in 2015. Pure battery-powered cars seemed to be winning the race. With 75% of all NEV sales in the country between 2009 and 2015, they catapulted ahead of alternatives like plug-in hybrids (vehicles that use both electric and gas power).

This year, however, Beijing changed its tack. The government dramatically scaled back subsidies, forcing automakers to boost innovation and reduce reliance on government incentives.

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Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen

Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.