China will not cut subsidies for new energy vehicles (NEV) again in July, Miao Wei, its minister for industry and information technology, said on Saturday, in a move that could bring some respite for vehicle makers, report agencies. China has been slowly rolling back a generous 5-year subsidy programme for the NEV sector kicked off in 2016, saying it plans to phase out subsidies after 2020, amid criticism that some firms have become overly reliant on the funds.
"There was a subsidy cut on July 1 last year and everyone has been concerned about whether we will see more cuts this year," Miao told the EV100 annual gathering of senior auto industry executives in Beijing. "Today I can tell everyone, we will not cut it in July this year." China's monthly NEV sales dropped for the first time in two years in July as the subsidy cuts reached a new level, and have continued falling since.
Miao's speech was the "best news", He Xiaopeng, chief executive of EV startup XPeng Motors, told Reuters, adding that policy stability was crucial to the industry. Miao also said NEV sales hit 163,000 units in December and full-year sales stood at 1.2 million NEVs, a drop from 1.3 million in 2018.
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers will announce 2019 full-year sales figures on Monday. Last month, it said that NEV sales from January to November had reached 1.04 million. Automakers which stand to benefit include Tesla, which started making deliveries from its $2-billion Shanghai plant this month and secured NEV subsidies in December, Warren Buffett-backed Chinese electric car maker BYD Co Ltd as well as aspiring Tesla-challenger Nio Inc.