China Tracks Real-Time Whereabouts of EVs

The Chinese government is monitoring the movement of all-electric cars in the country through the cooperation of the vehicle manufacturers, the Associated Press reports.

Such tracking is required by law. China says the practice is intended to gather operating data to help speed the country’s adoption of EVs. Critics tell AP the information is much more than required to meet that goal and is actually part of a government effort to strengthen its ability to monitor its population continuously.

AP says the system collects more than 60 data points. Among them are those that identify the vehicle by make, model and ID number and track its location, mileage and battery charge. The news service says more than 200 EV makers comply, including such foreign companies as BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Tesla and Volkswagen.

China requires EV makers to collect tracking data about their cars and turn it over to the government. Carmakers say they don’t reveal vehicle ownership, but AP observes that connecting the two would be easy to do. And vehicles aside, analysts point out that authorities can track the movements of anyone with a cellphone anyway.

AP notes out that U.S. carmakers also collect operating information about their U.S. customers’ cars too. But they don’t submit it to government agencies.