China’s Electric Vehicle Goals Revisited

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In an ambitious green energy policy of business, the Chinese government set the target that its industries would have produced nearly half a million hybrid or all electric vehicles by the end of 2011 and every year thereafter.

2011 is just about to end and this target would not be achieved, according to Chinese government insiders. Despite the launching of several electric vehicle projects throughout China, the current annual production capacity count pegs the numbers at only several thousand green energy vehicles, a far cry from the initial targets.

According to Lin Huaibin, the manager for China vehicle sales forecasts at HIS Automotive says, “It’s pretty trivial at this stage as they hardly sell any.”

There are many current obstacles that need to be hurdled, such as technological issues, technology transfer conflicts with multinational automakers and the Chinese wariness on alternative-technology vehicles.

Despite missing targets, China still has laudable electric car efforts in place. Even Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has been active in this field, calling on the creation of a “road map” for these electric and hybrid technology vehicles. Compared to other countries where private business is spurring the electric vehicle market, China’s efforts are being bankrolled by the state-run electric companies that operate the country’s power grids. These government companies make it their responsibility to provide an alternative to the importation of oil the production of electricity to power the projected electric vehicle market.

One electric car development project is being run by China Southern Power Grid Company and its facility has opened a sales and service center for electric cars in the new industrial city of the area. The center uses the Better Place business model where clients recharge their electric cars and then offer services to swap depleted batteries for newly charged battery arrays. This partnership with Better Place is for the long haul as electric cars are projected to service Guangzhou municipal government fleets as well as taxi services for this sprawling industrial city.

This project has also been a model for the changing of gasoline-fueled power trains with electric motors and swappable batteries of imported Renault Lagunas and Nissan Dualis utility vehicles. There are still ongoing discussions regarding Chinese automakers producing battery-powered vehicles. There are also plans to build recharging stations in big industrial cities such as Shenzhen for its electric bus and car fleets.

Unlike private businesses where electric vehicle owners are given charging equipment for their homes, China wants to hold the monopoly on plug ins and charging facilities and services. These include charging equipment as well as setting of technical standards for the Chinese market.

Despite such developments, the technological issues still remain. These include the car’s range of being less than 200 miles depending furthermore on the used energy in the vehicle. Even with these drawbacks, the Chinese march towards energy efficiency and green quality would continue with the state leading the way.