Archive for the ‘green vehicles’ Category

a few electric vehicle reports and links

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009


Electric vehicles are quickly taking the spotlight here in China, with the recently announced subsidies for new energy vehicles and government plans for electric vehicle industry development, followed by the Shanghai auto show, prompting a flurry of media articles from both within China and abroad.

I’ll be posting more in the next days and weeks what I think of these developments, but to start with I want to link to some relevant analyses that may be of interest to other researchers out there.

First of all, here is the McKinsey report that is referenced by both recent NYTimes and Guardian pieces:

McKinseyChina Charges Up: The Electric Vehicle Opportunity

For non-China-specific life cycle impacts analysis of different vehicle energy technologies, nothing beats this MIT report:

MITOn the Road in 2035: Reducing Transportation’s Petroleum Consumption and GHG Emissions

California also has similar, relevant reports on their Low Carbon Fuel Standards page.

Lastly, I haven’t read it all yet, but someone recently forwarded me this seemingly quite comprehensive Green Car market analysis report from consulting firm MDB:

MDBThe Green Car Report: Investment Analysis of the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Industry – Outlook for 2009-2012

I will be making follow up posts with key conclusions and take-away messages from these reports, but for now I just wanted to get them out there.


new recommended blog – china car times green

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Greetings! I’m finally back and settled in Beijing after traveling for much of the past month (hence the lack of posting). I was in the States for two weeks of conferences / meetings and then spent a week on vacation in Taiwan with my visiting parents.

I am slowly catching up on news and blogging. To start with, I want to pass along an excellent new blog from the folks at China Car Times:


The blog features frequent, excellent posts on China’s alternative energy vehicle industry developments.

china’s push to be electric vehicle leader

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Interesting article yesterday at the top of the New York Times home page – China Vies to Be World’s Leader in Electric Cars:

TIANJIN, China — Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.

While it’s nice to see China’s electric vehicle push making headlines internationally, the article as a whole leaves me a little confused and disappointed. Although much of the article is solid reporting, at times it adopts a strangely negative and sometimes contradictory tone. For example, the author, Keith Bradsher, writes (emphasis mine):

China’s intention, in addition to creating a world-leading industry that will produce jobs and exports, is to reduce urban pollution and decrease its dependence on oil…But electric vehicles may do little to clear the country’s smog-darkened sky or curb its rapidly rising emissions of global warming gases. China gets three-fourths of its electricity from coal, which produces more soot and more greenhouse gases than other fuels.

However, this “may do little” claim is supported by the following paragraph, which directly contradicts it:

A report by McKinsey & Company last autumn estimated that replacing a gasoline-powered car with a similar-size electric car in China would reduce greenhouse emissions by only 19 percent. It would reduce urban pollution, however, by shifting the source of smog from car exhaust pipes to power plants, which are often located outside cities.

“Only” 19% is not a “little.” Plus, this number will almost certainly grow as China’s power sector improves efficiency and diversifies away from coal. As for pollution, the McKinsey study supports the exact goal of the Chinese government – reducing urban air pollution. Why then, does Mr. Bradsher nay say the environmental impacts of electrifying the vehicle fleet?

Moving on, Mr. Bradsher accurately describes some of the details of the program, and makes some key points about why electric vehicles may be viable in China whereas they have struggled in America:

Electric cars have several practical advantages in China. Intercity driving is rare. Commutes are fairly short and frequently at low speeds because of traffic jams. So the limitations of all-electric cars — the latest models in China have a top speed of 60 miles an hour and a range of 120 miles between charges — are less of a problem.

First-time car buyers also make up four-fifths of the Chinese market, and these buyers have not yet grown accustomed to the greater power and range of gasoline-powered cars.

(That final sentence is key, and something I’ll make a note to blog on another time.)

In the final part of the article, Mr. Bradsher mentions that “rechargeable lithium-ion batteries also have a poor reputation in China,” but then goes on to say, “these safety problems have been associated with lithium-ion cobalt batteries, however, not the more chemically stable lithium-ion phosphate batteries now being adapted to automotive use.” Then why does he bring it up? Is there some evidence that Chinese consumers are reluctant to buy electric vehicles because of battery safety? If there is, he doesn’t mention it.

In the end, I’m just not sure what to make of the article. The overall tone seems to be some combination of “lookout America, China is going to leap frog you in this promising clean tech area” and “but don’t worry too much, even if they do succeed (which they might not), the impacts on GHG and air pollution reduction won’t be that big.”

From the perspectives of reducing oil consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution, I think almost everyone agrees that electrifying the vehicle fleet is a good thing. So good that many (including myself) see the electrification of the transportation sector as a core sustainability solution. I need to make time to prepare a longer post on this, but for now, see Joe Romm’s post: Plug-in hybrids and electric cars — a core climate solution, nationally and globally.

Related news from yesterday:
China Car Times reports that Shenzhen will become the first city to offer subsidies to private buyers, though I haven’t yet found the original source material to support this.
– NEEDigest’s excellent auto zone has a great comparison of companies racing to offer EV’s to the Chinese market.

Related post from this blog: subsidies for energy saving and new energy vehicles

subsidies for energy-saving and new energy vehicles

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Earlier this year, China announced new subsidies for energy-saving and new energy vehicles, including hybrids, EVs, and fuel cell vehicles. The announcement was covered widely in the media / blogosphere, for example Xinhua, Reuters, and China Car Times. I didn’t get a chance to post about this last month; although I’m late now, I still think it’s worth providing some commentary and more information.

First of all, since I like to reference original sources whenever possible, I was able to find relevant info posted both on the MOF website as well as MOST’s. The MOF notice is only a brief summary, but the MOST page seems to be the complete announcement.

The lead of the Reuters story is an accurate and concise summary of the program:

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s central government will subsidize purchases of clean-energy vehicles for public fleets in 13 cities to help the automobile industry develop green technology, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The trial scheme will promote the use of electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles by public transport operators, taxi firms and postal and sanitary services in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai…

A key point here is that the subsidies are for public fleets only. As far as I can tell, Chinese consumers are not eligible to receive these subsidies, although both the Xinhua and China Car Times stories describe them as such. Unless I am misreading the MOST announcement or there is another subsidy program that I am not aware of?

In any case, some technical details of the program are as follows:

– For small passenger cars (乘用车) and light-duty commercial vehicles (轻型商务车), the subsidies start for new energy vehicles which have at least a 5% fuel economy improvement as compared with traditional vehicles.
– For buses (客车), the subsides start at 10% improvement.
– The actual amounts of the subsidies (per vehicle) are given in Appendix Tables 1 and 2, which I have translated here:

appendix 1

appendix 2

One huge question I still don’t know the answer to: how much is the total program worth? (No total is given in the MOST document.) The Xinhua story includes this paragraph:

China is keen to encourage the use and manufacture of new energy vehicles as its fast growing vehicle population is putting high pressure on environment protection and energy-saving targets. The central government pledged to provide 10 billion yuan (1.46 billion U.S. dollars) in the next three years to auto makers to help upgrade their technology and develop alternative energy vehicles.

But this is confusing – is this 10 billion RMB for this program? Or another program (I’m thinking the 863 program)? More details as I learn them.

two good summaries of the near-future green vehicles market

Friday, January 16th, 2009


If you want to get quickly up to speed on how the US alternative fuel vehicle market is shaping up over the next few years, I recommend the following two posts:

Everything you could want to know about the plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle announcements at the Detroit auto show” (from Climate Progress via; note the excellent “ways to stay informed” links at the bottom);

Green Cars of 2008: Mega-Ginormous Summary of the Year” (from Treehugger).

Image: Treehugger