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UPDATED: October 26, 2009 NO. 43 OCTOBER 29, 2009
Green Giant
Entrepreneur Wang Chuanfu's rise to richest promises a profitable future for China's green auto industry

In 2006, BYD's first EV model, the F3e, made its debut in Beijing. After that, its hybrid-powered car, the F3DM, F6DM and another EV model, the E6, were put into production.

Batteries, as the most important core technology used in EV and the most challenging sector in EV development, are the most advantageous resource that BYD possesses, said BYD's Vice President Xia Yebing

According to BYD, the E6 could reach a maximum speed of 160 km per hour and uses 20 kwh of electricity per 100 km. Based on a price of 0.6 yuan ($0.09) per kwh, operating the car costs only 12 yuan ($1.76) per 100 km, or 65 percent less than a conventional automobile.

State priorities

At the annual Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition held in April, altogether 14 auto manufacturers showcased their new energy vehicles.

According to Auto Business Review, more than 40 carmakers, including BYD, Chery Automobile, Chana Auto Co. Ltd., and Nissan, have started new energy auto projects, and 27 car manufacturers have already introduced 76 types of new energy vehicles, some of which include buses that run on electricity.

Enjoying a joyride down the EV road, Wang-like entrepreneurs found that they were not alone. The country has put EV, or in a more general sense new energy vehicles, as one of the top sectors for financial and logistical support.

By 2020, China will have more than 150 million autos consuming 250 million tons of gas annually, posing a severe threat to the country's energy security, said Ouyang Minggao, Director of the State Key Laboratory of Automotive Safety and Energy Director at Tsinghua University New Energy Vehicle Center.

China's gas reserves will not be able to sustain its auto population in the future, said Wang Binggang, Director of Consultation Group for Project of Energy-saving and New Energy Vehicle with Ministry of Science and Technology.

China must turn to new energy, like electricity, to substitute gas as the major automobile power source, he added.

Greenhouse-gas auto emissions are also a problem that China cannot afford to neglect. Automobile emission pollution in China's big cities accounts for 60 percent of total pollutants, according to Zhao Baojiang, Director of the China Association of City Planning.

In the field of conventional internal combustion engines that operate with a particular fuel, such as gasoline or diesel, China has lagged far behind, said Wang Binggang. The new energy autos—and specifically electric vehicles—present a golden opportunity for China to catch up with other advanced countries, he said.

Promoting and encouraging the development of new energy autos has become a focal point for Chinese policies and a driving force in the new direction for the world auto industry, Miao Wei, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technologies, said at the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Forum held in Beijing on April 10.

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Science and Technology jointly issued provisional management measures (the Measures) on subsidy funds granted to the demonstrated promotion of energy-saving and new energy vehicles on January 23, 2009. The Central Government will offer a 60,000-yuan ($8,823) subsidy for each electric public passenger vehicle, and 500,000 yuan ($73,529) for each public bus longer than 10 meters, the Measures indicated.

China's State Council released the Automotive Industry Readjustment and Revitalization Plan on March 20, 2009. Over the course of the next three years, the country will arrange subsidies to support the use of cars powered by hybrid sources, electricity, fuel cells and other new energies, the plan stated.

Both central and local governments duly took EV as an essential part of the country's efforts to build an environmentally friendly society.

In September, 15 electric buses from Anhui Ankai Automobile Co. Ltd. were used for the Summer World Economic Forum held in Dalian.

In October, Shenzhen Bus Group disclosed that the Shenzhen Municipal Government will buy 100 BYD E6 EVs to be used as taxis.

Long road ahead

Charging stations remain a major bump in the road for the electric vehicles to reach their fullest potential. Although drivers could plug their EVs into home electrical sockets to recharge and, for an instant charge, plugging into a 360-volt industrial power socket could have the car charged to 80 percent of its full capacity in 20 minutes. But in China, such a charging station is no more than a demonstration project. In Beijing, a large-scale charging station was built exclusively for the 50 electric-powered Olympic demonstration buses.

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