As electric car brands struggle, the government has released a 15 year plan for the industry’s development. Since subsidies were withdrawn in June, industry darlings like Nio and SAIC have seen sales flatten out, as Chris Udemans wrote in July. Some analysts expected this plan to be more targeted in upgrading the industry—so when I saw it was out, I dropped everything to ask experts what it meant.
I thought I was going to write about cars. But after a week of reporting, I’m convinced the real story is tuktuks. Low speed electric vehicles (LSEVs) are taking over rural China without subsidies—in fact, experts are not even asking if they can be saved, but if they can be stopped.
They are “so underrated,” says David Li, Executive Director of the Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab. Li helps international entrepreneurs interested in mobility access resources in China. While people talk of an EV downturn, he said, “go to an LSEV company—they say they are still growing 30 percent per year.”
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