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China's new energy vehicles head for the world
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15:08, February 11, 2009

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Pilot programs for the demonstration of energy conservation and new energy vehicles will be launched in 13 cities including Beijing and Shanghai, according to a circular issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Science and Technology on Jan 24.

Prior to this, from the delivery and use of the thirty Foton Euro-V hybrid buses in Guangzhou at the beginning of 2008, to the launch of BYD dual-mode F3DM electric sedan and the establishment of the Beijing New Energy Auto Design and Manufacture Base at the end of 2008, China's new energy vehicle sector were already stepping up to the forefront of the world.

Remarkable achievements

As early as 2005, Foton started an investment of over 600 million yuan in research and development of hybrid vehicles, said Zhao Jingguang, Deputy Party Chief of Beiqi Foton Motor Company. To date, Foton's hybrid buses are already put into massive production. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the zero-emission and pollution-free Foton Euro-V fuel cell bus made its own contribution to guaranteeing Beijing's air quality during the Games.

At the end of 2008, China's first new energy auto design and manufacture base was established at the Beiqi Foton Motor Company. The base, which involves a total investment of five billion yuan, possesses three important green energy technologies -- clean energy, alternative energy and new energy technology, and is keeping pace with the world, Zhao explained.

"This will have a demonstrative effect and will play an important role in driving the development of new energy vehicles in other regions of China," he said. On the day the base came about, Beijing Public Transport Holdings signed a procurement agreement with Foton for 800 hybrid urban buses and chassis.

Shenzhen-based BYD Auto has also made gratifying achievements. According to Xu An, Manager of the company's PR department, BYD has invested more than one billion yuan in research and development of new energy vehicles. Only for the battery sector of the hybrid vehicle, BYD established a research and development team of over 500 members.

BYD's dual-mode F3DM electric sedan can automatically switch to engine mode in case of low battery, said Xu. "It is the world's first electric auto that would not rely on charging stations, owing to its automatic electricity-gas switch function. With this technology, we will commercialize plug-in dual-mode electric cars two or three years ahead of the international automobile giants". Shenzhen Government has already confirmed its first order for dozens of BYD's electric cars.

BYD said it would market its all-electric car by the end of 2009. Foton also indicated that during the same time it would launch its compact all-electric cars designed for individual buyers.
In addition to BYD and Foton, there are many other automakers in China that have made remarkable achievements in new energy vehicle development. During the Beijing Olympics, automakers such as Chery, ChangAn, Dongfeng, FAW and Jinghua provided society with a number of new energy vehicles they independently developed, including all-electric cars powered by lithium batteries, hybrid buses and sedans, fuel-cell cars and all-electric field cars.

Profound significance in the development of new energy vehicles

The development and promotion of new energy vehicles is of profound significance to sustainable economic and social development.

With the rapid development of the Chinese economy in recent years, the conflict between economic development and protection of natural resources and the environment is increasingly prominent. Enhancing the country's independent ability for innovation, fulfilling the national strategy for energy conservation and emissions reduction and maintaining sustainable social and economic development have become long-term, challenging tasks for China, said Wan Gang, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and Minister of Science and Technology, at the "2008 Forum on Green Energy Vehicle Development in China" on August 31, 2008.

The industrialization of new energy vehicles is still in its preliminary stage. The first customers of the dual-mode BYD F3DM are mainly enterprises. Xu says that it continues to be difficult for an individual to purchase an electric vehicle, and that BYD will make great efforts to encourage individual purchases in 2009. Presently, the situation at Foton is the same, with nearly all buyers of its hybrid vehicle being enterprises.

Zhao Jingguang explained that there are three factors restraining the industrialization of new energy vehicles. First, it is not clear how consumers will receive the vehicles. Second, new energy vehicles are still under development, and there exists the question of reliability in the transformation process from development to production. Third, new energy vehicles are much more expensive than traditional vehicles. Facing these difficulties, Zhao said that the government's promotion and support is of utmost importance. The industry requires not only financial support, but also backing through policy.

Large-scale promotion requires the nation's support, the government's encouragement for the consumption of new energy vehicles and in particular, customer recognition, said BYD's Xu An.

Over the past two years, the Chinese government has already started attaching importance to implementing policies that encourage the development and application of new energy vehicles.

In February 2006, the State Council released documents that supported the development of new energy vehicles. In the "National Guidelines on Medium- and Long-term Program for Science and Technology Development (2006-2020)", the State Council listed "low-energy consumption and new energy vehicles" as a priority topic and "hydrogen and fuel cell technologies" as frontier technologies. In November 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission formulated the "Rules on the Production Admission Administration of New Energy Automobiles".

At the launching ceremony of the Beijing New Energy Auto Design and Manufacture Base on December 28, 2008, Wan Gang said that the Ministry of Science and Technology, along with positive cooperation from relevant departments under the State Council, would take effective measures to further support research, demonstration and industrialization of energy conservation and new energy vehicles and advance this industry in China.

Those measures to be adopted including expanding investments in research and development to promote sustained technological development of new energy vehicles, organizing nation-wide demonstrations of new energy vehicle in order to speed up its industrialization, using international experiences as a reference to adopt stimulus policies to support the development and industrialization of new energy and organize and setting up technological and innovative alliances for the new energy sector, enhancing the production teaching research integration.

By People's Daily Online

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