China’s ‘father of EVs’ urges cooperation to scale up

MUNICH (Reuters) -China’s industrial policy adviser and ‘father of EVs’ Wan Gang said efficient batteries, better EV architectures and intelligent driving systems were key to scaling up EVs, calling for international collaboration on research and standards.

Wan, the chairman of China’s World New Energy Vehicle Congress (WNEVC) taking place in Munich, said hybrid and fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen were an essential part of the transition to low-carbon mobility.

“Many of you are very curious about the Chinese viewpoint on fuel cells… hydrogen is an important component of the national energy system,” he said, adding the technology was particularly promising for reducing emissions from commercial vehicles.

“We need to promote the whole supply chain of low-carbon development,” he added.

The former science minister is often referred to as the ‘father of EVs’ in China’s state media for his role in urging China’s government to invest heavily in low-emission vehicles.

After 15 years in Germany studying and working at Volkswagen’s Audi, he returned to China in 2000 to lead a government-led initiative to develop the EV market.

The experience in Germany “helped me to understand how companies achieved technology innovations and application,” Wan said, addressing Germany’s top auto executives and industry officials at the opening of the WNEVC.

The decision to hold the WNEVC in Munich, the first time the conference is being held abroad, is widely seen as a symbol of the Chinese EV industry’s intent to expand in Europe, challenging European automakers who started investing later in electrification.

Still, Chinese EV makers present at the Munich conference told Reuters that it was in their interests to collaborate with German automakers, leveraging their scale, branding and investments to lower costs and survive a competitive market crowded with newcomers.

(Reporting by Zhang Yan, Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Friederike Heine and Elaine Hardcastle)