Real story of infamous Chinese EV graveyard despite what we’ve been told

  • Footage of the Chinese EV graveyard has circulated online, with different narratives
  • The truth about the site is more nuanced than many believe
  • The site itself is reflective of a industry – but it’s not car manufacturing

Published on Jun 14, 2024 at 1:47 PM (UTC+4)
by Ben Thompson

Last updated on Jun 15, 2024 at 11:05 AM (UTC+4)
Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Videos of a Chinese EV graveyard have circulated online, but they don’t tell the whole story.

Many claims have accompanied the footage of a field of supposedly unsold EVs.

Some have claimed that they are the result of defrauding Chinese EV subsidies, while others have contended the footage is proof that EVs aren’t selling.

The truth is, the graveyard is a resting place – but not for car manufacturing.

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What’s the real story behind the Chinese EV graveyard?

The YouTube channel Inside China Auto explored the field and translated the markings on the cars.

With Chinese brand, BYD, topping Tesla as the global leading EV maker, it was believed the site was the graveyard for 10,000 unsold new EVs.

However, these aren’t new EVs and there are only a few hundred of them, in reality.

Inside China Auto

The majority of the vehicles there are between five to six years old and have seen significant use.

So how did they get there?

This is a fleet of retired rideshare cars that once operated in Chinese cities.

Perhaps making way for flying cars – there’s currently an entire town being dedicated to them with 100 XPeng ordered.

In 2016, e-bikes became really big in China and services began offering short-range EV rentals to make some money.

However, these ventures struggled, as the cars were more expensive to maintain than e-bikes.

The cost would be passed onto customers, who opted for cheaper options like e-bikes, public transport, or taxis.

As a result, the failure of these businesses left hundreds of EVs out of use – a lot like this junkyard full of classic Alfa Romeos .

That being said, they aren’t the only occupants of the graveyard – retired taxis and wrecked cars are also there.

So it just goes to show, that nothing is as it seems – and you should always fact-check things you read online.

# Tags - Cars, China, Tech


Ben Thompson

Ben got his start in journalism at Kennedy News and Media, writing stories for national newspapers, websites and magazines. Now working as a freelancer, he divides his time between teaching at News Associates and writing for news sites on all subjects.