China takes leap in electric vehicle manufacturing

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye (People’s Daily Online)

 An electric car displayed at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show
An electric car displayed at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show

World’s growing populations and limited oil supplies, coupled with the global battle against climate change, have led many auto makers to cultivate alternative energy. They are adopting new energy and modern technologies in addressing future problems. One way to stimulate this is by enforcing the adoption of more electric vehicles and other automobiles.

In this direction, China, as the world’s second largest and fast-growing economy, is taking a leap in manufacturing of electric vehicles.

According to central authority close to the matter, the Chinese government hopes to see 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020.

Beijing Electric Vehicles (BJEV.com) August 24, 2016 update stated that electric vehicles are energy efficient, with electric motors converting 75% of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels, while internal combustion engines (ICEs) only converting 20% of the energy stored in gasoline. They are environmentally friendly, reduce energy dependence, and with performance benefits such as quiet, smooth operation and stronger acceleration and require less maintenance.

On the other hand, BJEV.Com has admitted to challenges which auto makers and researchers are trying to address. The challenges mainly arise from batteries and related issues including driving range mostly 150 miles (or less) before recharging as compared to gasoline vehicles that go over 300 miles before refueling. Full recharge time of battery pack is estimated four to eight hours; large battery packs are expensive and usually must be replaced one or more times, while battery packs are heavy and take up considerable vehicle space.

“Researchers are working on improved battery technologies to increase driving range and decrease recharging time, replacement frequency, weight, and cost,” BJEV.com noted.

China has now surpassed the United States as the largest NEV market globally, and the total cumulative number of NEV units sold in China exceeds the rest of the top eight countries combined. This is the result of heavy levels of support from the central and provincial governments, including subsidies and tax relief, as well as other policy initiatives such as a recent stipulation from the State Council that electric vehicles should make up half of all public institutions’ annual vehicle purchases.

In spite of the industry’s current reliance on State support, there are two related developments that suggest that NEVs will catch on. The first is the emergence of a cluster of cars-haring start-ups in several major Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou.

At the BYD plant in Shenzhen, that growth in demand can be seen on the assembly line. BYD sold 62,000 electric vehicles to Chinese consumers last year and plans to at least double that number this year.

China’s quest for new energy is not only nationally. BAIC EV Center opened its first overseas research and development center in Silicon Valley, California on August 21 2015.

The convergence of two trends in the automotive industry -digitalization and car sharing services – expected to boost the sale of NEVs, which is a trend the Chinese government is actively encouraging.

In 2015, the government introduced subsidies of 31,500 yuan ($4,847) to 54,000 yuan per vehicle depending on the range of the car.

Although these are projected to fall to 28,800 yuan to 49,500 yuan by 2017 and then to 25,920 yuan to 44,550 yuan in 2019, according to Automotive Foresight, a Shanghai-based research firm covering the automotive industry, China’s electric vehicle market should continue to grow provided battery costs continue to fall.

The market for electric cars in China is booming, supported by subsidies and other incentives like free license plates and free parking places and public charging stations are now popping up everywhere. In 2015 sales of new-energy vehicles (electric and plug-in hybrids) stood at 188,700 units, up a staggering 223% compared to 2015. (www.forbes.com)

Subsidies can be as high as $13,800, making NEVs attractive for a large audience, and that in turn attracts more automakers. There were more than 50 new NEV’s on display at last month’s Beijing Auto Show.

This new trend, researchers believe, helps in addressing climate change and its related threats facing the world today.

Energy shortage, air pollution and greenhouse gas over emission are serious issues that the whole world is facing now. The development of electric vehicles (EVs) is one of the solutions to tackle those problems due to its special and profound significance for moderating global energy crisis, optimizing environmental protection and realizing the sustainable development, according to Yonghua Song, Xia Yang and Zongxiang Lu in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Tsinghua University in Beijing.

“Transport accounts for 26% of global CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions and is one of the few industrial sectors where emissions are still growing.” These are lines by Lee Chapman in the Volume 15, Issue 5 of his paper: “Journal of Transport Geography”.

To address the energy security and urban air-pollution concerns that emerge from rapid vehicle population growth, China has initiated the Thousands of Vehicles, Tens of Cities (TVTC) Program to accelerate the new energy vehicle (NEV) commercialization.

SOURCES: China People’s Daily Online

Fredrick P. W. Gaye is the News Editor of In Profile Daily Newspaper in Liberia, a fellow at the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) and an intern at People’s Daily Online. He can be reached by: fgaye.inprofile@gmail.com

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About Cholo Brooks 14342 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.