Oh, and hybrids too.

From NY Times:

The goal, which radiates from the very top of the Chinese government, suggests that Detroit’s Big Three, already struggling to stay alive, will face even stiffer foreign competition on the next field of automotive technology than they do today. […]

To some extent, China is making a virtue of a liability. It is behind the United States, Japan and other countries when it comes to making gas-powered vehicles, but by skipping the current technology, China hopes to get a jump on the next.

My guess is that this has less to do with the economic advantages and more to do with China’s epic pollution problem. But the story says that, because electrics still have to get their power from somewhere, the greenhouse emissions are only cut by 19%. Still, this could merely be an effort to shift the pollution from the city to the countryside where most of the power plants resides.

But here’s the thing…China’s government can mandate a lot of things we can’t. So a green revolution can happen a lot faster there and they can reap the rewards before we do. Of course, they can also make more mistakes, but what did Edison say about failing?

Here’s more on what they’re doing to ramp this up…

Beyond manufacturing, subsidies of up to $8,800 are being offered to taxi fleets and local government agencies in 13 Chinese cities for each hybrid or all-electric vehicle they purchase. The state electricity grid has been ordered to set up electric car charging stations in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

Government research subsidies for electric car designs are increasing rapidly. And an interagency panel is planning tax credits for consumers who buy alternative energy vehicles.

China wants to raise its annual production capacity to 500,000 hybrid or all-electric cars and buses by the end of 2011, from 2,100 last year, government officials and Chinese auto executives said. By comparison, CSM Worldwide, a consulting firm that does forecasts for automakers, predicts that Japan and South Korea together will be producing 1.1 million hybrid or all-electric light vehicles by then and North America will be making 267,000.

Regardless of China, the most damning stat in all is that Asia will be outproducing us by almost 8 to 1 in two years. How did this happen? The market for hybrids and electric is white hot right now and Asia is absolutely destroying us.

Question: What would the world have been like had we raised CAFE standards and mandated that the Big 3 start producing electric and hybrids back in the day? After all, GM had the EV1 spun up long before Honda or Toyota had options and if the political will would have been there it would have been a viable enterprise…especially if local and state governments bought the vehicles for use by their employees.

All I’m saying is that government interventionism isn’t always the worst thing in the world, especially when you’re talking about long term strategic goals that we know will benefit our economy, national security, etc.

For complete information on gas mileage rates between different brands, check out GreenHybrid’s list. Very useful.

Cars China Wants To Lead The Electric Car Revolution