Essay on Zombies
Students are often asked to write an essay on Zombies in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.
Let’s take a look…
100 Words Essay on Zombies
Zombies are fictional creatures often seen in movies and books. They’re typically depicted as dead humans who’ve come back to life, craving human flesh or brains.
Origin of Zombies
The concept of zombies originated from Haitian folklore. They were initially associated with magic and were said to be controlled by sorcerers.
Zombies in Pop Culture
Zombies became popular in western culture through movies like “Night of the Living Dead”. Now, they’re a common theme in horror genre, symbolizing fear and societal issues.
Zombies and Symbolism
Zombies often symbolize society’s fears or problems, making them more than just scary monsters in stories.
- 10 Lines on Zombies
250 Words Essay on Zombies
Introduction to zombies.
Zombies, the walking dead, have long been a fixture in popular culture. These creatures, typically depicted as reanimated corpses or mindless human beings, are often associated with a global apocalypse caused by an infectious virus.
Zombie Origins: Historical and Cultural Context
The concept of zombies originated in Haitian folklore, where they were seen as bodies reanimated by magic or witchcraft. Over time, this concept evolved and was adapted by various cultures, each adding their unique interpretation.
Zombies in Popular Culture
Zombies have become a prevalent figure in films, literature, and video games. The portrayal of zombies in these mediums often reflects societal fears and anxieties. For instance, George Romero’s 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead” used zombies as a metaphor for the societal upheaval of the time.
Zombies: A Symbol of Fear
Zombies embody the fear of death and the unknown. They are often used as metaphors for societal issues like consumerism, pandemics, and political unrest. Their mindless nature and insatiable hunger make them a fitting symbol for the destructive potential of humanity.
Conclusion: The Enduring Appeal of Zombies
Zombies’ popularity in popular culture can be attributed to their ability to adapt and reflect our deepest fears. As long as these fears persist, zombies will continue to walk among us in our stories and myths, serving as a mirror to our collective anxieties.
500 Words Essay on Zombies
Introduction to the concept of zombies.
Zombies, the walking dead, have become a prevalent figure in popular culture, often depicted as reanimated corpses or virally infected human beings. They are primarily characterized by their mindless, ravenous behavior and their desire to consume human flesh or brains. This essay aims to explore the cultural significance of zombies, their historical roots, and their symbolic representation in society.
The Historical Roots of Zombies
The concept of zombies originates from Haitian folklore, where zombies were dead bodies reanimated through magical means by a sorcerer, known as a “bokor”. The zombie served the bokor, devoid of free will, reflecting the dehumanizing conditions of Haitian slavery. This narrative was later westernized, and George A. Romero’s 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead” is often credited with shaping the modern concept of zombies.
In contemporary culture, zombies have become a staple of horror and post-apocalyptic genres. They are featured in various forms of media, including films, television series, books, video games, and even music. This widespread fascination with zombies can be attributed to their flexibility as a narrative device. They can be used to explore themes of societal collapse, human survival, and existential dread.
Symbolic Representation of Zombies
Zombies often serve as a metaphor for societal fears and anxieties. In the context of consumer culture, zombies can represent mindless consumption or conformity. For example, in George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead,” the shopping mall setting serves as a critique of consumerism, with the zombies symbolizing mindless consumers.
On a broader scale, zombies can embody societal fears of pandemics and disease. The transformation process into a zombie often involves infection, which can be seen as a reflection of our fears regarding uncontrollable disease spread. This metaphor has become particularly poignant in the context of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
The enduring appeal of zombies in popular culture can be attributed to their adaptability as a narrative device and their ability to embody societal fears and anxieties. They serve as a mirror, reflecting our deepest fears and darkest aspects of human nature. As long as these fears and anxieties persist, zombies will continue to walk among us, in our stories and on our screens.
That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.
If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:
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Essay Samples on Zombie
An overview of zombies: epidemiology of fear.
This article aimed to rationale how science fiction content describe and illustrate human culture through zombies. There was no formal concept of probability in Europe prior to the mid-17th century , despite the idea of randomized objects was already commonly seen. Asides from the first...
The Rising Dead: A Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide
The groan of the undead; the sputter of hisses they make with their decaying rotten teeth and the boils of putrid flesh that lingers around like the smell of oven baked cookies. Their molten skin peals back, revealing rotted ligaments and tissue that swarms with...
The Literature Review of Zombie Firm Research
Introduction The term of zombie is a concept that remains in our minds as living dead from horror movies. In recent times, this term has often been used to describe standing firms while it should have been closed a long time ago. Zombie firms are...
- Film Analysis
"Train to Busan" as a Perfect Example of Zombie Film
Once treated as a minority of manipulative pleasures, zombies have expanded their territory in popular culture. Now in present days, many people are familiar with zombies through various entertaining sources including cartoons, novels, and movies. However, not all zombie tales are necessarily the same, as...
Best topics on Zombie
1. An Overview of Zombies: Epidemiology of Fear
2. The Rising Dead: A Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide
3. The Literature Review of Zombie Firm Research
4. “Train to Busan” as a Perfect Example of Zombie Film
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"Introduction" from Books of the Dead: Reading the Zombie in Contemporary Literature
The introduction from my second book, Books of the Dead: Reading the Zombie in Contemporary Literature, which lays out some of the book's argument and its structure. Published 2018 with University Press of Mississippi.
Xavier Aldana Reyes
But it all started, really, from my teaching, because, as a microbiology teacher, I always felt that it was important that my students didn’t just learn about microbiology, but were able to talk about microbiology to other audiences, even their families, so that then, when they went home, they could say what they were studying. So, it’s an ability to be able to communicate science to a whole range of different audiences. And I started getting my students, first of all, to use the humanities to communicate their science. And I did a big project with microbiology and art, where I got my microbiology students to create art. And then I thought, actually, literature is something which was very accessible to everybody. And I thought about using fiction where infectious disease was part of the plot, as a vehicle for talking about disease epidemiology and transmission. And, really, that’s how it began.
Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy
T. Hunter Strickland
This paper will focus on how the rise in popularity of zombie literature in the 21 st century is reflective of a western cultural need to address the fear of the unknown through popular culture. Through the flesh-eating zombie, we enter a parallel world where everything familiar in our communities becomes evil. The genre reflects the fear in Western society of the neighbor who has turned against you, survival in the midst of government collapse, and the monster within. Zombie fantasy literature allows society a venue to deconstruct what is known while dealing with these fears and the unbridled hate of the unthinking zombie through a collective experience using popular culture. What this fantasy subgenre allows, the author will explain, is a monster that embodies an individual human's greatest fears. At times, the zombie reflects the fear of social breakdown; at others, the zombie reflects aging and death. The versatility of this embodiment of fear allows it to be a genre that continues to evolve. Using the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin on carnival and festive folk humor, the author will discuss how the zombie genre has provided fantasy lovers a desconstructive space to deal with fear, death, and hate in a genre that breaks down what western society has constructed for itself, and also allows readers to rebuild the future without constraint. Zombies, however, always leave room for humanity to hope for life and the future. This popular culture phenomenon goes beyond mere entertainment as it reaches into the heart of viewers and allows them to express their greatest emotions.
Bible and Critical Theory
John Edgar Browning
Zombie Talk offers a concise, interdisciplinary introduction and deep analytical set of theoretical approaches to help readers understand the phenomenon of zombies in contemporary and modern culture. With essays that combine Humanities and Social Science methodologies, the authors examine the zombie through an array of cultural products from different periods and geographical locations: films ranging from White Zombie (1932) to the pioneering films of George Romero, television shows like AMC's The Walking Dead, to literary offerings such as Richard Matheson's I am Legend (1954) and Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride, Prejudice and Zombies (2009), among others. Introduction: Our Zombies, Our Bodies; David R. Castillo and John Edgar Browning 1. Survival Horrors, Survival Spaces: Tracing the Modern Zombie (Cine)Myth Through to the Postmillennium; John Edgar Browning 2. Zombie Masses: Monsters for the Age of Global Capitalism; David R. Castillo 3. The Coming Apocalypses of Zombies and Globalization; David A. Reilly 4. The Limits of Zombies: Monsters for a Neoliberal Age; David Schmid Afterword: What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Zombies?; William Egginton
C21 Literature: A Journal of 21st-Century Writings
Studies in the Fantastic
The following is a transcript1 of an interview conducted by Dr. Asijit Datta (The Heritage College, University of Calcutta) of Dr. Sarah Juliet Lauro2 (University of Tampa) for a webinar called “Zombies and Diseased Bodies,” that was held over Zoom on June 19, 2020, a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic. In republishing this here, we have two hopes: 1) that it provides a kind of snapshot of the ways that we were already reaching to the zombie myth to make sense of our changing world only a few months into “lockdown,” and 2) that it might serve as a companion piece to Christina Connor’s interview of author Justina Ireland, whose zombie novels play upon the racial inequity and colonial abuses that undergird the myth. (The interview has been edited for clarity and length.)
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Zombie College Essays Samples For Students
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While studying in college, you will certainly need to craft a lot of College Essays on Zombie. Lucky you if putting words together and organizing them into meaningful content comes easy to you; if it's not the case, you can save the day by finding an already written Zombie College Essay example and using it as a template to follow.
This is when you will definitely find WowEssays' free samples collection extremely helpful as it embodies numerous professionally written works on most various Zombie College Essays topics. Ideally, you should be able to find a piece that meets your criteria and use it as a template to compose your own College Essay. Alternatively, our qualified essay writers can deliver you a unique Zombie College Essay model crafted from scratch according to your personal instructions.
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Zombies Essay Examples
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For the viewers of “The Walking Dead” Are you a fan of the zombie genre in general? yes, I read/watch all/most things in the genre; no, “The Walking Dead” is my sole interest in the genre.
How familiar are you with the show’s source material: the comic book series the show is based upon?
I had read the comics before the show started; I started reading the comics during the show’s run; I am planning to read them; I have not and do not plan to read the comics.
What made you interested in watching the show in the first place?
its public acclaim; raving critics’ reviews; source material; recommendations from friends/family.
Are you watching the spinoff show: “Fear the Walking Dead”?
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End of the world is a description of losing life and the most dominant creature of the planet Earth and that is the human beings. When the life had begun on earth, we can say that it is the beginning of the world; hence end-of-life means no one will take care of our planet so, as a result, earth will be on the worst state that eventually ends. In the movie World War Z, end of the world was portrayed on a similar scenario and how the earth went to the edge of being ended.
World War Z Movie
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- How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples
How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.
A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.
The main goals of an introduction are to:
- Catch your reader’s attention.
- Give background on your topic.
- Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.
This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.
The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.
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Table of contents
Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.
Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.
Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.
Examples: Writing a good hook
Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.
- Braille was an extremely important invention.
- The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.
The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly why the topic is important.
- The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
- The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.
Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.
Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.
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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:
- Historical, geographical, or social context
- An outline of the debate you’re addressing
- A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
- Definitions of key terms
The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.
How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:
Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.
This is the most important part of your introduction. A good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.
The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.
Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.
As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.
For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.
When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.
It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.
To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .
You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.
Checklist: Essay introduction
My first sentence is engaging and relevant.
I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.
I have defined any important terms.
My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.
Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.
You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.
- Literary analysis
This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.
This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).
In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.
To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
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The Character Kathy from “Zombie Love” by Roske Essay
Introduction, kathy from the “zombie love” play by earl t. roske.
Kathy is a young woman in her twenties who appears in “Zombie Love,” a play by Earl T. Roske. Kathy expressed her confusion over her friend’s romantic involvement with a zombie by stating that she does not comprehend how her friend could be in such a relationship. Kathy plays the character of Emily’s best friend, who tries to convince Emily to break up with her zombie lover Walter. In this play, Kathy shows how society is divided and discriminates against one another. Kathy is one of Emily’s closest friends and wants nothing more than what is best for her, which does not involve having a relationship with a zombie. The play is a representation of a complicated relationship that takes place in a society full of discrimination and stereotypes. Kathy is experiencing a great deal of inner conflict due to the connection that Emily has with Walter as well as her afterward relationship with Emily.
First, Kathy has a lot of conflicting feelings about her friendship with Emily, even though she loves her. Kathy cares about Emily’s well-being and happiness, and she would stop at nothing to see Emily have a relationship with Walter, who is a zombie. Although Kathy seems a kind and supportive friend, she does not approve of Emily’s connection with a zombie. Despite her opposition to Emily’s relationship with Walter, she does not want to see her closest friend Emily suffer due to their relationship with Walter as she further tells her that “You’re the one who sounds unhappy. I’m unhappy that I’m losing my best friend.” (Roske, 2011, P. 126). Kathy is concerned about Emily’s relationship with Walter because she fears her safety since Walter is a zombie, and zombies are known to eat brains. Kathy is, to some extent, engaged in a conflict with herself.
Second, Kathy believes that Emily and Walter’s relationship is ethically unacceptable from a personal standpoint. Emily, in her opinion, should establish a friendly relationship with a live man rather than a zombie, says this woman. Due to social pressure and Kathy’s personal views, Kathy confronts Emily about her connection with Walter. Other people in society tend to disagree with the relationship as well. They see it as ethically wrong and believe the connection should not occur. Emily feels that Kathy might be a threat to their relationship with Walter, and therefore she does not feel comfortable having her around. At the end of the performance, Emily gives Walter the order to kill Kathy, who had been motionless throughout the play. Emily says to Kathy, “Kathy, you can be such a killjoy. I guess I have no choice” ” Kill Kathy for me, please?” (Roske, 2011, P. 127). The fact that Walter likes eating brains causes him to feel ecstatic. Emily gives him the instruction that he is to kill her merely and not eat her brains for them to continue being friends.
In conclusion, the play depicts a complex relationship in a culture riddled with discrimination and stereotypes. Emily is shown as a kindhearted lady who shows her love and concern for Walter, who is a zombie. Kathy is concerned about Emily’s health and happiness and will do whatever she can to ensure the relationship does not happen. Moreover, Emily argues that Kathy is ruining their connection with Walter by making them feel bad about themselves. Emily orders Walter to murder Kathy at the play’s conclusion since she remains motionless throughout the play.
Roske, T. (2011). Zombie Love. S. Peacock (Eds.), Gale College Collection Anthology . Gale Literature Classics. Web.
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IvyPanda. (2024, January 8). The Character Kathy from "Zombie Love" by Roske. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-character-kathy-from-zombie-love-by-roske/
"The Character Kathy from "Zombie Love" by Roske." IvyPanda , 8 Jan. 2024, ivypanda.com/essays/the-character-kathy-from-zombie-love-by-roske/.
IvyPanda . (2024) 'The Character Kathy from "Zombie Love" by Roske'. 8 January.
IvyPanda . 2024. "The Character Kathy from "Zombie Love" by Roske." January 8, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-character-kathy-from-zombie-love-by-roske/.
1. IvyPanda . "The Character Kathy from "Zombie Love" by Roske." January 8, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-character-kathy-from-zombie-love-by-roske/.
IvyPanda . "The Character Kathy from "Zombie Love" by Roske." January 8, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-character-kathy-from-zombie-love-by-roske/.
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China’s Electric Vehicles Are Going to Hit Detroit Like a Wrecking Ball
By Robinson Meyer
Mr. Meyer is a contributing Opinion writer and the founding executive editor of Heatmap , a media company focused on climate change.
It happened very quickly, so fast that you might not have noticed it. Over the past few months, America’s Big Three automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the oddly named company that owns Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep — landed in big trouble.
I realize this may sound silly. Ford, General Motors and Stellantis made billions in profit last year, even after a lengthy strike by autoworkers, and all three companies are forecasting a big 2024. But recently, the Big Three found themselves outmaneuvered and missing their goals for electric vehicle sales at the same time that a crop of new affordable, electrified foreign cars appeared, ready to flood the global market.
About a decade ago, America bailed out the Big Three and swore it wouldn’t do it again. But the federal government is going to have to help the Big Three — and the rest of the U.S. car market — again very soon. And it has to do it in the right way — now — to avoid the next auto bailout.
The biggest threat to the Big Three comes from a new crop of Chinese automakers, especially BYD, which specialize in producing plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles. BYD’s growth is astounding: It sold three million electrified vehicles last year , more than any other company, and it now has enough production capacity in China to manufacture four million cars a year. But that isn’t enough: It’s building new factories in Brazil, Thailand, Hungary and Uzbekistan, which will produce even more cars, and it may soon add Indonesia and Mexico to that list. A deluge of electric vehicles is coming.
BYD’s cars deliver great value at prices that beat anything coming out of the West. Earlier this month, BYD unveiled a plug-in hybrid that gets decent all-electric range and will retail for just over $11,000. How can it do that? Like other Chinese manufacturers, BYD benefits from its home country’s lower labor costs, but this explains only some of its success. The fact is that BYD — and Chinese automakers like Geely, which owns Volvo Cars and Polestar brands — are very good at making cars. They have leveraged China’s dominance of the battery industry and automated production lines to create a juggernaut.
The Chinese automakers, especially BYD, represent something new in the world. They signal that China’s decades-long accretion of economic complexity is almost complete: Whereas the country once made toys and clothes and then made electronics and batteries, now it makes cars and airplanes . What’s more, BYD and other Chinese automakers are becoming virtually global car companies, capable of manufacturing electric cars that can compete directly with gas-burning cars on cost.
That is, on the surface, a good thing. Electric cars need to get cheaper and more abundant if we are to have any hope of meeting our global climate goals. But it poses some immediate and thorny problems for American policymakers. After BYD announced its $11,000 plug-in hybrid, it posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that “the price will make petrol car assemblers tremble.” The problem is many of those gasoline carmakers are American.
Ford and GM plotted an ambitious E.V. transition three years ago. But it didn’t take long for them to stumble. Last year, Ford lost more than $64,000 on every E.V. that it sold. Since October, it has delayed the opening of one of its new E.V. battery plants, and GM has fumbled the start of its new Ultium battery platform, which is meant to be the foundation for all of its future electric vehicles. Ford and GM have notched some wins here (the Mustang Mach-E and Chevrolet Bolt are modest hits), but they aren’t competing at the level of Tesla and Hyundai — companies that operate factories in less union-friendly states in the Sun Belt.
Jim Farley, Ford’s chief executive, recently disclosed that the company had a secret development team building a cheap, affordable electric car to compete with Tesla and BYD. But producing electric vehicles profitably is an organizational skill, and like any skill, it takes time, effort and money to develop. Even if Ford and GM now bust out innovative new designs, they will lag their competition at executing them well.
The other looming problem for Ford and General Motors is that their balance sheets, while superficially robust, conceal a structural vulnerability. While the two companies have done generally well in recent years, their billions in profits have overwhelmingly flowed from selling a relatively small number of vehicles to a small group of people. Specifically, Ford and GM’s earnings rest primarily on selling pickup trucks, S.U.V.s and crossovers to affluent North Americans.
In other words, if Americans’ appetite for trucks and S.U.V.s falters, then Ford and GM will be in real trouble. That creates a strategic quandary for them. In the coming years, these companies must cross a bridge from one business model to another: They must use their robust truck and S.U.V. earnings to subsidize their growing electric vehicle business and learn how to make E.V.s profitably. If they can make it across this bridge quickly, they will survive. But if their S.U.V. profits crumble before their E.V. business is ready, they will fall into the chasm and perish.
That’s why the flood of cheap Chinese electric vehicles poses such a big problem: It could wash away Ford and GM’s bridge before they have finished building it. Even a wave of competitive electric cars from the Sun Belt automakers — like Kia’s EV9, a three-row S.U.V. — could eat away at their S.U.V. profits before they’re ready.
Perhaps the Big Three deserve destruction; after all, they hooked us on S.U.V.s in the first place and then fell behind in the E.V. race. But letting them die is not a tenable political option for the Biden administration. One goal of Mr. Biden’s presidency is to show not only that decarbonization can work for the American economy but also that it can revive moribund fossil-fuel-dependent communities in the Rust Belt. Mr. Biden has also fought for and won the endorsement of the United Auto Workers, which just cemented a generous new contract with the Big Three and now needs them to thrive.
He has reason, in other words, to help the Big Three even before you get to the harsh electoral realities: The legacy auto industry employs more people in Michigan than any other state, and Mr. Biden’s path to re-election all but requires him to win Michigan in November. (Recall that Donald Trump won Michigan by just under 11,000 votes in 2016.) Mr. Biden cannot allow the possibility of another China shock to hit the Midwest’s auto economy. So what should he do?
The good news is that Congress has already done some of the work for him. You may have heard about the Inflation Reduction Act’s generous subsidies for domestic electric car production. Can it help here? It can, and it will, but the act alone is not nearly big enough to insulate these companies from the threat posed by Chinese E.V.s. The Chinese automaker Geely is preparing to sell the small, all-electric Volvo EX30 S.U.V. in the United States for $35,000. That price — which seemingly includes the cost of a 25 percent tariff, first imposed by the Trump administration — rivals what American automakers are capable of doing today, even with the Inflation Reduction Act’s subsidies.
Subsidies likely won’t be enough; Mr. Biden will need to impose new trade restrictions. But here’s where it gets messy. The case for protecting the American auto market from Chinese E.V.s is obvious and politically essential but also highly troublesome. In the short term, American automakers — even the homegrown electric-only carmakers like Tesla and Rivian — must be shielded from a wave of cheap cars. But in the long term, Mr. Biden must be careful not to cordon off the American car market from the rest of the world, turning the United States into an automotive backwater of bloated, expensive, gas-guzzling vehicles. The Chinese carmakers are the first real competition that the global car industry has faced in decades, and American companies must be exposed to some of that threat, for their own good. That means they must feel the chill of death on their necks and be forced to rise and face this challenge.
This could be done in a number of ways. One is by suggesting to American companies that any import restrictions imposed on Chinese cars in the next few years won’t necessarily be permanent. That might encourage American companies to learn everything they can from their new Chinese competition, getting over their hubris and recognizing that Chinese companies now understand aspects of E.V. manufacturing better than their American counterparts. That means that Republican lawmakers, in particular, must recognize that climate-friendly technologies are the future of global industry. Mr. Trump is threatening that, if elected, he would gut the Inflation Reduction Act, even though it’s full of policies meant to help America compete with Chinese E.V.s. There would be no faster way to destroy the U.S. car industry as a global force.
What the United States is trying to do is really hard. We want to preserve the economic geography and institutions of our old fossil-powered economy while retooling it to work in a new zero-carbon world. There’s no small amount of irony in the fact that all those involved here — Democrats, Republicans, major automakers — resent China for achieving what was once a goal of, well, hippies and environmentalists: making electric cars popular and cheap. But if they’ve done it, we can do it too. It will take grit and good-faith effort. We should assume that Ford and General Motors will be competing with BYD and Geely for decades to come, and we should relish that fight.
Robinson Meyer is a contributing Opinion writer and the founding executive editor of Heatmap , a media company focused on climate change.
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