BEIJING: The shift towards electric cars in Asia is gathering pace, as China looks to increase their sales to counter urban air pollution, with expected knock-on effects across the rest of the region.

China has already set a goal for electric and plug-in hybrid cars to make up at least a fifth of auto sales by 2025 and is currently looking at when it might completely ban the production and sale of fossil-fuel cars.

Last week Wang Chuanfu, chairman of automaker BYD, stated his belief that by 2030 all vehicles in the country would be “electrified” – a definition that includes hybrids as well as purely electric cars.

Such a development would have regional implications according to Yutaka Sanada, Nissan’s senior vice-president of Asia and Oceania (excluding China and India).

“The significant movement of EVs (electric vehicles) will drive electrification in Asia and Oceania, not only in demand but also in acceptance,” he told the South China Morning Post.

And as that process picks up speed, “we may also try to link Chinese electrification part suppliers [with our local production]”, he added.

His colleague Vincent Wijnen, Nissan’s head of marketing and sales in Asia and Oceania, argued that emerging markets across Southeast Asia are positioned to leapfrog straight into the electrification age.

“The biggest markets today are Thailand and Indonesia,” he said. “Some are growing very fast like the Philippines. The next one will be Vietnam. Those markets will grow exponentially. We want to make sure that we are ready for that.”

Meantime, China is establishing itself as a leader in EV battery production, with 140 manufacturers producing 125 Gigawatt-hours worth of cells last year.

Established automakers are not the only businesses looking to enter this market, with Dyson, the vacuum cleaner and hand dryer maker, the latest to throw its hat in the ring announcing a £2bn investment, split between battery and car design and manufacture, with the latter possibly taking place in Asia.

China last year sold 336,000 electric vehicles, around a third of the global total, and so far this year has sold 320,000, accounting for 1.8 per cent of all auto sales in China.

Sourced from Reuters, South China Morning Post, Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff