Wally Edgar Chevrolet How A Volt Ride & Drive Made China Rethink …

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Wally Edgar Chevrolet — How A Volt Ride Drive Made China Rethink Their Grandiose EV Plans

CHERY M1 EV

PRLog (Press Release) — Nov. 18, 2010 — SHANGHAI — Until recently, many observers believed China would lead the world in EV development, given the sheer size of its market and generous government subsidies.

In 2008, McKinsey Co. predicted EVs would generate as much as 30 percent of China’s passenger vehicle sales by 2030. A year later, A.T. Kearny projected that electric cars would grab as much as 40 percent of China’s auto market by 2020.


But those expectations are waning. This month, J.D. Power forecast that electric cars would account for only 2 percent of total light vehicle sales by 2020.

If J.D. Power is correct, China would still be the world’s second largest EV market, with annual sales of 333,000 units. But electric cars would be a niche — not a mass market.

What do the Chinese themselves think of the domestic EV market?

Last June, domestic auto executives were excited about prospects for a huge domestic EV market that would help Chinese automakers leapfrog international rivals.

They were encouraged by the government’s announcement that it would offer a 50,000-yuan ($7,300) sales subsidy for each plug-in hybrid vehicle, and a 60,000 yuan subsidy for electric vehicles in five major cities.

But Chinese executives now realize that it is not so easy to leapfrog foreign competition. Dong Yang, deputy chairman of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, has warned that Chinese companies are way behind international companies in battery technology.

Dong’s reminder is timely. Many Chinese companies claim they have developed EV products, but their technologies are untested.

Moreover, some companies have made extravagant claims about the range and performance of their EVs.

For example, engineers that I have met have expressed skepticism about the safety of BYD battery technology and the range that Chery has claimed for its EV.

By contrast, GENERAL MOTORS and Nissan Motor Co. allowed journalists to test-drive the CHEVROLET VOLT and Nissan Leaf before they went on sale.

I think this explains why some technocrats here in China say the government should allow low-speed EVs on China’s roads. They know that Chinese companies lag far behind international companies in EV development, so they want to give Chinese automakers the first-mover advantage in their home market.

There are other hurdles ahead of China’s nascent EV market as well. This week, Reuters reported that Nissan is not ready to introduce its Leaf electric car in China until the government drafts proper national standards for charging facilities.

Sober realism about China’s EV market may leave a bitter taste, but it is better than blind optimism. With a dose of realism, perhaps Chinese EV makers will work harder while government officials draft more clear-headed industrial policies.

Chery Electric Cars

Meanwhile Chery Automobile Co. has put its first electric car on sale with a starting price of 149,800 yuan ($22,358).

The Riich M1-EV was developed on Chery’s S18 small car platform. Powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, the small electric car has a range of 150 kilometers and a maximum speed of 120 kph.

Yuan Tao, Chery’s vice president for alternative energy vehicles, told reporters that the company will modify the EV for the U.S. and European markets and test it in those markets next year.

SOURCE: Auto News China

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