- The EU Commission has identified batteries as one of six strategic categories with high import dependency. As the EU is now contemplating its own industrial policy, it is worth recalling how China implemented targeted restrictions on foreign players to cultivate its own domestic battery industry.
- In 2015, MIIT introduced “Standards and Conditions for the Automotive Traction Battery Industry”, constituting a White List of certified EV battery suppliers to operate in the Chinese market. The main requirement to receive the certification was an annual output capacity of more than 8GWh in China. Only NEV manufacturers using certified batteries were eligible for subsidies.
- This had put companies not included in the list at a stark disadvantage. Even though some foreign firms had production capacities in China, no foreign company was put on the list, effectively protecting domestic companies from foreign competition
- After the White List was introduced, the market quickly consolidated and the number of battery companies active in China shrunk significantly. The White List was abolished only 4 years later, after the policy secured a clear Chinese market leader, CATL.
- Today, CATL holds more than 50 percent of market share in China, followed by BYD (16 percent). Foreign players, such as LG Chem and Samsung SDI, have accelerated their investments in China again since the lifting of the White List. But they start from a significantly weaker market position in China than before the introduction of the White List.
Sinolytics is a European research-based consultancy entirely focused on China. It advises European companies on their strategic orientation and concrete business activities in the People’s Republic.