Halfway through 2016, Chinese consumers had already bought 170,000 electric vehicles. The main reason won't come as much of a surprise: Central and local government investment in infrastructure and subsidies, according to a new report from Oak Ridge National Laboratories. The government's own investment in electric buses and other official vehicles, along with charging stations, increased the number of EVs on the road.
The study says giving people discounts on market-rate cars and other incentives like tax exemptions—and the option to not pay tolls for bridges and highways—also helped stoke sales. China also has a big market of tiny low-speed, cheap electric vehicles, which wasn't accounted for in this report, because these kinds of EVs aren't fully regulated, but represent a gateway for EV adoption.
Bottom line: China has taken aggressive action to make itself a leader in the electric car industry, and (as we've seen in other countries) it's driving growth.