SHANGHAI -- The Chinese government will help accelerate the development of electric vehicles while continuing to support the improvement of traditional automotive technologies, said Wan Gang, the Minister of Science and Technology on Sunday at an industry forum.
Addressing the 2009 International Forum on Chinese Auto Industry Development held last week in Tianjin, Wan said all major economies and key automakers worldwide have embraced electric vehicles as "a strategic choice" which will fundamentally transform the global auto industry.
Wan said China has natural advantages over other countries in the development of electric vehicles. These include abundant lithium and rare earth metal resources for the production of lithium ion batteries and electric motors as well as a huge potential market for electric vehicles.
The development of electric vehicles in China will start with small passenger vehicles and buses, he said. The government will provide more funding and incentives for infrastructure construction and r&d activities for electric vehicle development, he added.
In his speech, Wan urged major domestic automakers to take a leading role in developing electric vehicles. He also appealed for the consolidation of China's many small electric vehicle parts suppliers into large enterprise groups to strengthen their r&d capabilities.
Wan is widely seen as the most influential figure in the technology path to be followed by China's automotive industry.
Before becoming the minister, Wan was an automotive engineer. He earned his Ph.D. at Clausthal University in Germany and then working as a senior engineer at Audi for nine years until 2000. He later returned to China to head the new energy vehicle engineering center at Shanghai's Tongji University.