Retired Volkswagen AG Chairman Carl Hahn said that China is urging the acceptance of electric vehicles in order to "leapfrog its competitors in the traditional automotive industry." At the Seoul Forum, a conference hosted by the Seoul Economic Daily newspaper, Hahn explained that China's standing as the world's largest auto producer gives it the economic power to dominate the EV industry.
Hahn is credited for leading the company to enter a joint venture with China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. that started production in 1985. Right before he retired, Hahn held the position of chairman of VW's board of management (from 1982 until 1993).
China is transitioning to use electrification technology partly to lower its dependence on imported oil. At the conference, Chris Flavin, president of the Worldwatch Institute, said that if China used the same amount of oil as each person in Japan, world oil production would have to be doubled. He mentioned that Japan uses only half as much as what the US consumes.
Hahn made a prediction that until 2030, electric and hybrid-electric vehicles will be limited to just 10% of the global market. But he believes that after that, electrification will spread due to technical advances.
He believes that increasing urbanization is good for electrics. He mentioned data from the United Nations Population Division that states that in 2008, for the first time, the majority of the world's population lived in urban areas. But he also believes that the benefits of electrification on the environment will be determined by the energy used to produce electricity.