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How Chinese EVs remade China’s auto industry reputation

China has officially become the world’s biggest market for electric vehicles, accounting for 41% of all EVs sold worldwide. That is a huge number for one admittedly huge country.

Chinese brands like NIO, Polestar, and BYD are leading in EV innovation, jostling with Tesla for the most innovative cars in the world.

But things weren’t always like this. Back when electric cars were just a futuristic gimmick, Chinese car companies simply couldn’t compete with Western stalwarts like Ford, GM, and Volkswagen.

So just how did China go from an also-ran in car production – to the battlefield for the future of the automotive industry?

The race to the top

In the 1970s and 80s, China was still importing most of the automobiles sold in the country. It was only in the late 80s that the Chinese government started requiring foreign automakers to set up joint ventures with local automakers if they wanted to have access to China’s market, creating Chinese car brands such as BYD, Geely, and Chang’An.


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