China poised to be world leader in electric cars

Sep 05, 2011 By Jim Motavalli

Do you have an electric car-charging station in your neighborhood? In your garage? I didn't think so. They're still pretty scarce, but that situation is likely to be short-lived. By 2017, according to a new report from Pike Research, there will be more than 1.5 million charging stations in the U.S. But that's not the news; the important factoid is that there will be nearly 7.7 million places to plug in worldwide, and "The Asia Pacific region will lead global electric vehicle charging equipment sales due to strong government incentives and directives in China, Japan and Korea."

That's right, China in particular is prepared to swamp the current leader - the U.S. - in just a few years. The Chinese government says it wants to have 10 million chargers in place by 2020.

Chinese consumers are currently being offered a staggering subsidy, 60,000 renminbi ($9,400 U.S.), to buy an electric vehicles. And in Beijing and Shenzhen, local governments offer that same amount again. EVs in China are double the price of gas cars, so these subsidies will certainly help make up the difference. Also overcoming sales resistance is that electrics are exempt from the license plate lottery that limits new car registrations in Beijing and Shanghai.

Jim Fisher, who heads the for General Electric's Industrial Solutions division, told me that China is in the 12th of its five-year plans, and that are among the top five priorities, with Shanghai as the principal pilot city.

And GE is joining with Hertz to provide the all-electric BYD E6 (at right) for rental service in Shanghai, as well as Beijing and Shenzhen. "We will put several thousand of our WattStation EV chargers in China, and we're working with Hertz on locations," Fisher said. He added that the Pike report gives "a very positive outlook" for the quick spread of EVs in China. And Chinese utilities are enthusiastic EV backers, with a special emphasis on swappable batteries that would make it easier to take long trips.

Michael Mahan, a product manager for EV infrastructure at GE Energy, said the company wants an "end to end" network in China that includes 480-volt DC fast charging. "We're exploring that, but haven't made any announcements," he said.

It all sounds very promising, but there are some obstacles. Even with the subsidies, the Chinese haven't yet flocked to . The BYD F3DM plug-in hybrid, priced at what sounds to westerners like a very attractive $21,000, had sold only about 10,000 since 2008. Keep in mind that the non-hybrid F3 is China's bestselling car (with 92,000 sold in the first quarter of 2011) and sells for only $8,000, so it's no wonder there is price resistance.

Brad Berman of PlugInCars.com took a test drive in the F3DM, which is aimed at U.S. sales (with a tentative price of $28,800), and this is his video report:

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

The E6 also sells for a fairly absurd $47,000 in China, which explains why GE and Hertz are bundling EV leasing and charging as a special package for government fleets and multinational companies operating in China. And for consumers, maybe renting one is the best bet. "Market research has suggested that most will resist paying extra," the New York Times reported.

China has still not adopted a single charging standard, as has the U.S. with the Society of Automotive Engineers' J1772 plug. And the urban Chinese tend to live in high-rise apartments, which makes home garage-based charging out of the question. That's why GE is working with on the optimal placement of its WattStations - likely in big communal parking garages.

But beyond these hurdles, EVs are on a roll in , and it's not surprising that American companies like GE and Hertz are going along for the ride.

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User comments : 15

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Vendicar_Decarian
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 05, 2011
Once again, China is in the forefront and America is nowhere.
GDM
1 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2011
Yes, but there is still time, despite their massive subsidies. Even though they are a paternalistic/totalitarian state, their people are not flocking to the new technology. I seems that most people still make up their own minds based (hopefully) on what works best for themselves. We (in the "west" if not the US) can still make the progress needed and (again, hopefully) convince ourselves and others that vehicles based on renewable energy are better then the oil burners we have today.
Skepticus
5 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2011
Yes, but there is still time, despite their massive subsidies. Even though they are a paternalistic/totalitarian state, their people are not flocking to the new technology. I seems that most people still make up their own minds based (hopefully) on what works best for themselves. We (in the "west" if not the US) can still make the progress needed and (again, hopefully) convince ourselves and others that vehicles based on renewable energy are better then the oil burners we have today.

yes... hopefully, arguably, possibly, optimistically...
gimpypoet
4 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2011
big difference will be when chinas infrastructure is in place, their gov't will make ev mandatory. in the us, the gov't can't figure out the tax details, or even what to charge for the electricity to charge the ev's. WE need to break up the grid and build localized generation plants, because current infrastructure couldn't possibly handle the strain of charging the ev's that would replace the present number of cars. progress is being made, but the Tea party wants to develop more fossil fuels,such as coal, shale oil, and natural gas, and since they all own stock in the oil/ energy industry, it's not in their best interest to go green. now if the green tea party starts up we could see these new sources sooner, but we should vote in only people who have no party preferance or people with no political ties. only thing is they have no experience either. what to do what not to do!!!!
knikiy
4 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2011
Meanwhile Big Oil is still benefiting from big subsidies and reaping big profits in the US. The US govt kowtows to their corporate masters while maintaining some illusion of democracy by shuffling around some of the middle men every 4 years or so.
tarheelchief
3 / 5 (1) Sep 06, 2011
Notghing would be more useless than more automobiles in China.
China really needs electric bikes,electric tandem bikes,bikes with small trailers or large saddle bags.
The infrastructure for automobiles is far too expensive and demands much to much land for a nation which has its largest population groups in areas which are semi-tropical.It would be foolish to think you do not need enclosed vehicles in Europe or North America.But in Southeast Asia,India,the Middle East,Africa and most of South America electric bikes would be far more useful and what is more important less energy demanding.
Skepticus
3 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2011
Nothing would be more useless than more automobiles in China.....


Nice idea, but all that will be moot. With their political system, all they have to do is to pass a decree from the top. You either comply or find yourselves in hard labor camps. They even passed laws of how often once can breed, haven't you noticed? That's the problem/advantage of the dictatorial political system. If decisions are wise and intelligent, it will really work and benefit the country. On the other hand, the individualistic, democratic ones would be bickering for years while the nothing would be done, good or bad, because no concensus would be reached.
despinos
5 / 5 (1) Sep 06, 2011
What's important is to have the charger network installed. Once there, they will be suitable for cars AND bikes. Unfortunately, e-bikes are still rather expensive compared to traditional bikes and electric cars.

There's an evergrowing demand in China for buying new cars. The (most likely) aim of the Chinese government is that an important part of these new vehicles be electric, to reduce their fuel dependence and restrain contaminating emissions in towns.
Lorenz van Gool
5 / 5 (1) Sep 06, 2011
What's the original source of the Pike Research? Can't find it. I came across some sources claiming the exact same as was written here, but that sources are months old...
Eikka
3 / 5 (1) Sep 06, 2011
If decisions are wise and intelligent, it will really work and benefit the country. On the other hand, the individualistic, democratic ones would be bickering for years while the nothing would be done, good or bad, because no concensus would be reached.


That's a big IF.

The main point of the democratic system is to divert the energy of all sorts of do-gooders so the rest of us can get on with our lives without being constantly harassed by people who try to steer our lives for what they think is better.

Unfortunately that means that whenever we actually need to do something, we have to do it ourselves instead of waiting for the government to figure it out - and hope that they don't try to interfere.
Eikka
3 / 5 (1) Sep 06, 2011
For example, what good does it do for the Chinese to build massive amounts of electric vehicles, when all they're going to do is replace petroleum with coal to power them?

Clean up the cities? Pollute the countryside.

Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (5) Sep 06, 2011
"With their political system, all they have to do is to pass a decree from the top. You either comply or find yourselves in hard labor camps." Ahh, so! That's where Obowma learned it.

Electric vehicles are merely pollution-NIMBY and solve nothing.

Good people ought to be armed as they will, with wits and Guns and the Truth.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (4) Sep 06, 2011
The truth is that Capitalist America holds nearly 2.5 million of it's citizens in it's for profit gulag.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Sep 06, 2011
For example, what good does it do for the Chinese to build massive amounts of electric vehicles, when all they're going to do is replace petroleum with coal to power them?

Clean up the cities? Pollute the countryside.

While not solving any climate issues that would at least solve some health issues (i.e. it would definitely improve the quality of life in the bigger chinese cities)

But then again: China is manufacturing a lot of solar power products (and investing heavily into nuclear power plants - though whether that is such a good alternative is open to debate)

Switching over to EVs doesn't automatically make you eco-friendly - but it at least gives you the option to go that way in the future. Not making that switch denies you that option.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (4) Sep 06, 2011
Antialias is a smart man.

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