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中国将成电动汽车领导者,但环境仍面临挑战

Ashely Feng, Sagatom Saha 2017年10月22日

中国已经将包括电动汽车在内的新能源汽车确定为战略新兴行业,最高层对这个行业给予了大量经济和政策支持。

未来的主要交通工具必然是电动汽车。随着电池成本的下降,以及各国纷纷开始推动内燃机引擎的退出,有些激进的预测认为,到2040年,电动汽车将占据全球汽车总量的三分之一。

随着全球对汽车“去碳化”的需求愈加迫切,电动汽车的快速发展似乎是个好消息。不过一旦作为新兴市场领袖的中国获得了主宰电动汽车行业的机会,很有可能会使这个行业的创新陷入僵化。如果具有创造力的美国企业不加入这个行业的竞争,从长期来看,由中国主导的电动汽车革命很可能只会放慢行业的发展,并加剧气候变化。

如果中国在电动汽车市场上的创新态势与光伏产业相仿,那么全世界只能看到“还算够好”的创新。由于没有竞争对手,也没有加速技术突破的紧迫感,那么由中国垄断的电动汽车产业便会满足于较小的技术进步。

过去十年中,中国已经将包括电动汽车在内的新能源汽车确定为战略新兴行业,最高层对这个行业给予了大量经济和政策支持。最近的趋势表明,中国往往还会利用法律手段强迫非国防领域的外资公司进行技术转移,或是要求他们将数据存放在中国的服务器上。比如2013年,日本川崎公司就发现,它原先的中资合作伙伴南车四方竟然使用了日方转移的技术,生产了由日本设计的高铁设备卖给欧洲的新市场,成了自己的竞争对手。

在中国做生意的外国汽车厂商必须要与一家中国境内的公司合资,而且中资还要占大头。而且中国政府还要求各大汽车厂商大力发展新能源技术。由于这些严格的规定,很多外国厂商只得将自己的知识产权让给了与他们合作的中国厂商,从而刺激了本土汽车企业的发展,长期来看则损害了外商自己的利益。

另外,很多外国厂商都已意识到,中国已经成为最热门的电动汽车市场,而且中国也愿意不惜一切成本在这个领域上发力。比如美国的福特公司就正在中国开发新的电动汽车产品线,生产出来的新车很可能会被出口到美国。

利用其庞大的市场规模和政府主导型经济,中国正致力于成为电动汽车市场的领导者。通过采取各种手段获取关键技术,迫使外资建立合资公司,中国已经实现了“弯道超车”,在很短的时间内,便成为了全球第二大电动汽车生产国,所用的时间只相当于那些西方竞争对手的零头。

然而这种局势只会带来电动汽车创新的量变而非质变,最终对环境并不会有什么好处。全世界都知道,中国企业非常擅长靠倾销来搞垄断,把竞争对手逼破产,从而形成一个缺乏竞争的环境,中国就可以顺理成章地成为这个行业的龙头老大了。

这种做法对于创新并无裨益,只会给能源行业造成损害。想象一下,如果这个世界上所有顶尖的公司都只能赚十分微薄的利润,会带来什么后果?另外,缓慢的量变创新也不足以对抗气候变化。

因此,美国有必要扩大对创新型汽车技术研发的投资。在包括电动汽车在内的几乎所有能源技术的商品化过程中,政府的支持是十分关键的,因为这些技术在大规模市场化之前,都需要付出高昂的前期成本。

特朗普政府已经正确地认识到,中美之间的贸易失衡将给美国的国家安全造成威胁,而且美国应该为了美国车企在中国市场的公平准入而抗争。即便是在当前这种不公平的环境下,2016年美国仍然向中国出口了价值89亿美元的汽车,充分说明了中国市场的潜在需求。

美国国会和美国政府应该携起手来,推动电动汽车产业立法,对下一代的基础设施需求进行投资,对在全美各地建设充电站等基础设施给予资金支持,以刺激国内的电动汽车销量。

美国是通过促进市场公平开放、重视研发、投资全国基础设施建设而保持了经济增长的。现在,美国的政策制定者们也应当引领美国汽车产业的变革,否则他们就将把下一代的汽车产业交到中国的手中。

本文的作者艾希莉•冯和萨加汤姆•萨哈分别是美国外交关系学会的中国问题研究员和能源问题研究员。(财富中文网)

译者:贾政景

The future of transportation will be electric vehicles (EV). As battery costs come down and countries turn away from internal combustion engine vehicles, the most aggressive outlooks see EVs making up one-third of the global car fleet by 2040.

Given the pressing need to decarbonize the global transportation sector, this seems like positive news. However, China, the emerging market leader, would stifle innovation if given the chance to dominate. Without competition from inventive American firms, the impending EV revolution would be one that slows the industry and speeds climate change in the long run.

If Chinese innovation in the EV market is at all similar to its role in the solar panel industry, the world will only see “good enough” innovation; because there is no competition or pressing problem to stimulate technological breakthroughs, China will settle for minimum advances in EVs.

For the past decade, China has identified new energy vehicles (NEVs), which includes electric vehicles, as a strategic and emerging industry, unlocking strong financial and political support from top leadership. Recent trends have demonstrated Beijing will not shy away from using the law to force non-defense related companies to transfer technology or store their data on Chinese servers. In 2013, Kawasaki, a Japanese company, found itself competing against its own designs abroad when CSR Sifang, its former partner in China, used transferred technology to export Japanese-designed high-speed rails to new markets in Europe.

For foreign automakers to do business in China, they must have a joint venture with a domestic company as majority owner. The Chinese government also requires automakers to incorporate NEV technologies in their electric vehicles if they have them. Due to these stringent requirements, foreign companies end up forfeiting their intellectual property to Chinese competitors they are forced to work with, boosting domestic Chinese industry and harming their own bottom lines in the long run.

Despite this, foreign companies have quickly realized that China is the hottest market for EVs and are still willing to compete there at any cost. Ford, the quintessential American automaker, is exploring developing its new line of electric cars in China, which would then be exported to America.

Through leveraging its market size and government-directed economy, China is looking to lead the EV market. By poaching critical technologies and forcing joint ventures, China has leapfrogged to become the world’s second-largest producer in a fraction of the time it took foreign competitors to develop their products.

The bad news is this situation will only result in incremental improvements that will not ultimately benefit the environment. Chinese companies are widely known for dumping products to create monopolies and bankrupt competitors, creating an uncompetitive environment in which China could fashion itself as a leader with little merit.

While this practice is unproductive across the board, it could be truly damaging in the energy sector. Imagine a world where leading companies only improve marginally on cost and performance. Incremental progress will not sufficiently combat climate change.

The U.S. needs to expand funding for research and development of new, innovative vehicle technologies, as government support is crucial to the commercialization of EVs and nearly all energy technologies, often defraying the upfront cost before mass-market viability.

The Trump administration has correctly identified the danger that America’s unbalanced trade relationship with China poses to national security and should fight for fair market access for automakers in China. Even under unfair conditions, the U.S. still managed to export $8.9 billion worth of cars in 2016, indicating latent Chinese demand.

Congress and the administration should work together to codify and fund the next generation of infrastructure needs, pouring financial support behind charging stations around the country to incentivize domestic EV sales.

The U.S. has sustained economic growth through promoting fair and open markets, prioritizing R&D, and investing in national infrastructure. U.S. policymakers should now lead the transformation of America’s transportation sector, lest they leave the next generation in the Beijing’s hands.

Ashley Feng is the research associate for China studies and Sagatom Saha is the research associate for energy and U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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