Green vehicles are seen in China as a shining alternative for the polluting auto industry. However, it is not as easy as environmentalists would wish.
China, the world’s second biggest oil consumer after the US, plans to produce 500,000 new energy vehicles within the next three years. Which sounds a lot but if successful it would still only account for 5% of its automobile market.
And no one is quite sure how they will be driven. There are five alternative energy styles possible – electric, plug-in hybrids, hybrids, fuel cell and alternative fuel vehicles.
As a part of the plan, 13 cities have been urged to popularize these vehicles for public services such as buses, taxis, government vehicles, sanitation and the postal service. And 18 big players, including Hong Kong-listed BYD and Anhui-based Chery, are entering or planning to enter the green vehicle market. But we are still talking about a target of 5%. Which is a help but does not solve the problem.
BYD’s F3DM, China’s first dual mode electric car to be sold to private buyers this month, can drive only 100 kilometers on battery power alone with a top speed of 160kmh. And on a household 220V power supply, a full recharge takes as long as eight to nine hours. A virtually nonexistent recharging infrastructure also impedes the development of new energy cars.
Alibaba reports that the best estimate is that pure electric vehicles will represent between 2 and 5% of total output of light vehicles by 2020. That is not an encouraging figure.