Great wheels from China

Why the world should welcome competition from Chinese carmakers

Deglobalisation would be bad for drivers and the planet

IF FRESH EVIDENCE were needed of the importance of China to the global car industry, the Shanghai motor show, which opened on April 18th, provides it. The world’s other big jamborees have been permanently cancelled or downgraded, but China’s showcase has attracted 1,000 exhibitors from many countries with 100 new models on show.

Only a few years ago Chinese cars were poorly designed and shoddily put together. Today they are mostly as good as foreign ones in both respects, and surpass them in the software-driven digital experience that will define car brands in the future. Yet for the world as a whole, the rise of Chinese cars will be more significant still. To curb global warming, it is essential to replace carbon-spewing petrol-powered vehicles with cleaner battery-powered ones. And China is both the world’s biggest market for, and maker of, electric vehicles (EVs).

Vehicles powered by internal combustion have been a great success story over the past century, bringing mobility to the masses and fat profits to shareholders. A handful of giant…