Does the road to Electric Vehicles pass through China? EV Startup outsources production

January 13 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: 2014   Rating: 2


EV startup Miles Automotive has announced plans to outsource manufacturing of its California-bound electric vehicles to a China-based assembly factory.

Auto analysts continue to speculate about plans by Detroit-based companies to partner with Asian manufacturers.  And yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported on BYD's plans to produce EVs for global markets based on a lower barrier to manufacturing.

More than ever before, the road to electric vehicles powered by batteries, fuel cells and capacitors seems destined to pass through Asia.

And it is time to challenge common assumptions about EVs?

Will EVs be a Domestic or Global Industry?
It is commonly assumed that electric vehicles would bring non-OPEC countries more 'independence'.  Instead it seems clear that the age of EVs will pull them further into the global economy of 'interdependence'.  Electric vehicles propulsion systems and storage systems (batteries, fuel cells and capacitors) are likely to emerge from a global value chain that spans from Asia to Europe to Americas. 

Will Early Adopter Markets Emerge from within Europe/California or Asia?

Most people assume that the markets of Europe or California would lead the way towards a 'greener' economy.

But could Asian markets, particularly China, Korea, Japan and India, emerge as the most suitable early adopter electric vehicles (bikes, scooters, small EVs)?


Asian consumers are much more likely to buy smaller vehicles.  And it is clearly the growth market for the world's auto makers.   The AP is now reporting on a comment by a GM Asian Executive who believes that China could pass the US as the #1 market for new vehicle sales as soon as 2015.



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 Press Release

Automaker Outsource Press Release

Image Credit: Dan Kamingas Flickr CC License

Comment Thread (2 Responses)

  1. Great continued analysis of the EV manufacturing situation.

    One aspect of the story that has been bugging me is the US’ reluctance to negotiate for the technology / manufacturing licenses that would enable our auto industry to switch over. Now that the writing is on the wall re: Asia occupying claiming a significant portion of the EV supply chain, what exactly is preventing us from striking licensing arrangements, partial buyouts, lower-tariff-for-tech deals with say Toyota? U.S. auto companies still have some brand leverage/vlaue with which to negotiate, but that leverage is fading fast. Why don’t we hear more about such proposals/possibilities? Are they really so obviously impossible, even in the age of the flattening world?

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   January 13, 2009
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  2. Good question Alvis-- I think you’ve just described what’s likely to happen next. First, I think we need to get the US public over some early assumptions of how this is going to play out. Most people know very little about how the auto industry works… so it’s going to be a tough sell. Esp when so many politicians have set up expectations for ‘independence’ - when EVs are not likely to be the silver bullet. I think it would take some major partnerships- which I expect in ‘09. GM-BYD, Ford-BYD, et al. One of the reasons GM has set up shop in China has been to make this transition- it’s just a hard sell since these vehicles, in short term, will not make money. The stories to watch – are the battery and fuel cell lobbying groups in the US who are pushing for federal assistance. That’s our best bet- have the US go full speed at making best batteries in the world…

    or, (my preferred path) skip over batteries into fuel cells (where there is a less established supply chain)

    But – I share your frustration on slow speed!! Hoping that things change in 2009…

    Posted by: Garry Golden   January 13, 2009
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