China's leapfrogging in electromobility: a story of green transformation driving catch-up and competitive advantage

Altenburg, Tilman / Nicoletta Corrocher / Franco Malerba
External Publications (2022)

in: Technological Forecasting and Social Change (183), article 121914

Open access

For several decades, China tried to catch up in the automotive industry, yet until recently with little success. Now, the paradigm shift from internal combustion to electric driving has opened a window of opportunity to catch up with global competitors. The Chinese government provided a strong policy push to become a lead market, allowing firms to accumulate technological capabilities and increasingly turn into lead manufacturers. This paper combines patent data and qualitative analyses of subsector trends to assess the technological capabilities and the international competitiveness of the Chinese industry in electromobility. We find that the country is indeed leapfrogging ahead in some domains (electric buses, lithium batteries) and rapidly catching up in others, including passenger vehicles. Ambitious green transformation policies can thus spur catch-up and competitiveness.

About the author

Altenburg, Tilman

Economic Geography


Further experts

Breuer, Anita

Political Scientist 

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