BEIJING -- China has eclipsed the United States as the world's largest market for traditional vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. It may well become the world's No. 1 market for alternative energy vehicles, especially, electric vehicles.
That is obviously what the companies participating at Beijing auto show in April have been anticipating. At the event, not only did every automaker display their EVs, several parts suppliers also joined to show their EV prototypes so as to demonstrate what they can do for automakers.
At the Beijing show, Magna International Inc. set up a dedicated booth for its second generation Mila concept electric car.
In January, Magna established its tenth field of competence, the E-car Systems Group, said Frank O'Brien, executive vice president of Magna's Asia region, at a press conference last month in Beijing. And one of Magna's plans for China in 2010 is to open an office in Beijing for the new business group, he said.
According to O'Brien, Magna built its first electric vehicle for Fiat in 1989 and throughout the 1990s each year Magna undertook one or two electric vehicle development projects for its clients.
"As you know, over time the interest in electric vehicles declined and increased depending on the prices of oil," he said. "Now we feel the up-and-down movement in interest has stopped and the world has found that the new era would be sustained interest and investment for the foreseeable future in electric vehicles."
At present, the Chinese government is consulting Magna for the drafting of a series of technical standards for electric vehicles such as battery charging standards, said Sun Xingyuan, vice president of Magna Automotive Technology Service (Shanghai) Co.