Published on 11 Jul 2006 by People's Daily Online. Archived on 11 Jul 2006.
Bright prospects of China's green car industry
China's Chaoyue (meaning to surpass) No. 3 fuel cell driven car from Shanghai received four gold medals during the Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2006 being held in Paris in June. The four categories of winning class A is in carbon dioxide emissions, emissions, noise and fuel efficiency. The car only consumes 1.03 kg of hydrogen for 100 kilometers.
This was the result of five years hard-work and the application of proper strategic policy in China's car industry.
Starting in 2001, China has decided to put electric car research and development at the top of the agenda of the 10th five year plan key scientific and technological projects. Special attention has been given to manufacturing, researching and developing electric cars, hybrid fuel cars and fuel cell cars.
Now China can claim itself ranking among the world advanced countries in car industry and has formed a strategy to transform its car energy system.
But five years ago, China's car industry had just started; new models, new brands and new production lines are the most concerns.
Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua paid great attention to this issue and studied the situation of the world car industry. He asked his colleagues about it and got to know that when a country's per capita GDP surpasses US$ 1000, it is unavoidable to see cars enter most households. Looking at the oil market, China became net oil importer in 1993 and in 2000 China imported 70 million tons of oil with a cost of US$ 20 billion. At such speed, there will be a day that one can have a lot of money, but still not be able to buy any oil.
Many countries in the world have made policies to encourage research and development of new technologies to replace traditional fossil fuel-oil or gas for automobiles. Among these technologies, the electric car is the most promising type. By 2000, Japan had 200 thousand of such cars. In California, it stipulated that by 2001, electric cars will account for 5% of the total and by 2003, 10%, otherwise, they will face penalties. The EU also invested billions of Euros to develop fuel cell buses.
Even for the purpose of energy saving and preventing pollution, China should develop its own electric cars.
Electric cars can be divided into three types - fuel cell cars, hybrid cars and pure electric cars. Fuel cell cars mainly burn hydrogen and only produce water out of it, and its efficiency is higher than the internal combustion engine. A hybrid vehicle uses multiple energy sources or propulsion systems to provide motive power. It most commonly refers to gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, which uses gasoline (petrol) and electric batteries for energy used to power internal-combustion engines (ICEs) and electric motors. These vehicles can be used in cities when one can drive with lower speed, but start and stop very often. Pure electric buses are completely driven by outside batteries which have little noise, no emission and proper for special locations.
China has a lack of such kind of talented people who know all about car manufacturing, new energy and markets. Fortunately, Wan Gang who used to work in German Audi Company quit his job in Germany and returned to China. He was granted as the chief scientist and appointed as the team leader of the key electric car research and development project. They decided to research in the three types of car technologies as well as energy driving system and batteries key technologies. Meanwhile, they also study policies, regulations and technologies and standards.
After five years of hard work, they finally succeeded in producing these three types of cars. Their fuel cell car technology has proved successful amongst the world advanced countries during the Paris competition. Their hybrid buses are used for passenger transportation and can be manufactured with a small scale while the pure electric cars are also manufactured in certain scale and are exported.
On May 20th in Shanghai, a light blue-colored shuttle bus was parking in Yichulianhua bridge area. It was branded as Chuangxin No 1, meaning Creative No 1. Passengers can easily feel that the fuel cell bus is very quiet. Currently seven cities including Beijing, Wuhan, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Shenzhen have started pilot operation of this kind of bus. So far the mileage of the fuel cars and buses have surpassed 30 thousand kilometers, the cost of equivalent gas is 4 liter and 12 liter per 100 kilometers respectively.
The No 1 Automobile Company, Dongfeng, Chang'an and other car-manufacturers are all researching and manufacturing hybrid cars and bus samples which can save gas by 30% and reduce emission by 30% too. Their speed can be as high as 160 and 80 kilometers per hour respectively.
Beijing Keling Company has developed four types of electric buses and costs only 70 kilowatts/hour per 100 kilometers. Tianjin Qingyuan Company has exported 112 electric cars to the USA.
Minister Xu Guanhua said China's auto industry should fully assess its impact on resources and environment and fully consider market demand, oil price change trend and the application basis of new technology R&D during its development. Insiders should be aware of the importance of developing the electric cars, hybrid vehicles and fuel cell cars in the long run.
The Paris green car challenge also shows that the energy-saving, environmentally friendly type of automobile will be the main trend in the future. This will gradually be well understood around the world auto industry as well as amongst consumers.