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February 3, 2010
‘Bootleg’ electric cars thrive in China’s second-tier cities

In this Signature story, we travel to China to meet a modern-day Thomas Edison who helped give birth to the country’s “knockoff” electric car industry.

Chinese consumers in second-tier cities can’t get enough of these small, cheap electric cars that require around six hours of charging to go 75 miles — at a maximum speed around 35 mph.

Video journalist Jimmy Wang reported and produced the video for TIME and the Asia Society.

See other posts on Chinese environmental change produced with China Green at the Asia Society: In pursuit of 8% growth, China wields double-edged sword and Tibetan plateau experiences ill effects of climate change.




How to Save The Planet by reducing emissions and
dependency on oil and put a lot of people back


[…] 8% growth, China wields double-edged swordTibetan plateau experiences ill effects of climate change‘Bootleg’ electric cars thrive in China’s second-tier citiesSlowing global warming could mean less economic growth Greenhouse gas emissions soaring around the […]


It is a status. The party workers drive cars, so the middle class wants to drive a car. Think on the order of having a bike. You can buy the cheap 3 speed bike or the 10 speed bike. You can buy the mass produced bike or the super duper 2 wheel kind that can run 4 figures, yet have all the gears that will only get you to a certain speed.
Think that if can afford it you to can a big guy, be the first on your block to.


@ Mike: True these cars are powered by inefficient coal plants. But consider what it means to have inefficient coal plants + emissions from inefficient gasoline(petrol) powered vehicles; that would lead our planet to extinction faster than when you compared it to: inefficient coal plants + 0 (zero) emission electric powered vehicles (utilizing power from same plants).

An interesting point I noted from the video is that these cars are meant to be driven in the city for short commuting distances, say to work.

When you check the mileage ratings for any gasoline/diesel powered vehicle, you will observe it is much more lower in the cities than on the highway, meaning more go to waste due to idling at traffic lights and hold ups. Please give credit to this innovation, it is highly deserved. I wish it would be improved upon and mass produced for more city / rural commute.

Also note that it was stated that taxi drivers who use them now save on gas as a result.

Thank you!


You’ve got to love the niche, not a cycle nor a car.


These cars are essentially fired by coal power, as 70% of electricity in China is produced by coal-fired plants. Furthermore, these are coal plants that are not very efficient. When you say these cars have no emissions it is very, very misleading.

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