Ten years ago almost to the day, while checking out a handful of luxury sedans from one of China’s largest automakers SAIC Motor Corp., President Xi Jinping gave a pivotal speech that would set China on the course to dominate the electric vehicle industry.

The path to becoming a strong automaking nation lies in developing new-energy vehicles, Xi said, according to a 2014 Xinhua report.

Claiming a head start, or "high ground,” in this sector is key to the competition globally, Xi said.