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Standardization key to industrialization of new energy vehicles

BEIJING – At the 2010 Annual Meeting of Chinese New Energy Vehicle Development organized by on December 26-27, 2010, speakers and attendees from government institutions, manufacturers, academia and research institutions discussed and exchanged their perspectives on policies, regulations, technologies and development trends of China’s new energy vehicle industry. One theme that resonated throughout the one-and-half-day conference is the issue of standardization, and many of the speakers agreed that it is a key factor in facilitating the industrialization of new energy vehicles. – Editor

Hou Shiguo: 60 km/h not an appropriate speed standard for NEVs

A speed standard of 60 km/h for new energy vehicles is not appropriate, said Hou Shiguo, former deputy director of the Department of Industrial Policy, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

“Imagine yourself in a NEV on a highway with a maximum speed of only 60 km/h,” said Hou. “One of the first things that NEVs should satisfy for consumers is the same performance and usability found in traditional vehicles.”

That is just one of the many issues confronting China on its road towards the industrialization of NEVs, said Hou. “We still do not have viable solutions for issues such as battery life, capacity, charging time, location, etc.”

Nonetheless, the development and industrialization of NEVs as a national strategy is inevitable, added Hou. “China’s motor vehicle parc is expected to reach 250 million by 2020, which would require 400 million tons of oil,” said Hou.

Yao Yang: EVs key to cleaner coal, but challenges abound

The industrialization of electric vehicles will be an important measure in making China’s coal a cleaner resource, said Yao Yang, deputy dean of the National School of Development at Peking University.

“Compared with a world average of one-third, coal accounts for around 70 percent of China’s energy consumption structure,” said Yao. “China had better utilize this abundance in coal reserves for the development of EVs.” China still has about 70 years of coal reserves, compared with only 15 for petroleum and 60 for natural gas, according to Yao.

Four major challenges in the area of technology, consumption, environment and capital still hinder the development of EVs, said Yao. These include issues such as range, battery cost and safety, consumer acceptance, battery recycling and investment allocation for R&D.

Zhao Xiao: High-speed rail and NEVs could be future of China’s transport culture

The future of China’s transport culture will follow a path entirely different than that of the U.S., said Zhao Xiao, professor at Beijing University of Science and Technology.

“First, China has already launched numerous high-speed railway lines, which is more suitable for its high population density,” said Zhao. “Together with the development of NEVs as one of China’s seven future key emerging industries, China is likely to take the lead in new transport culture as it transforms its economic development mode.”

China has already set a target of half a million NEVs within the next few years. By 2020, new energy vehicles, along with six other strategic emerging industries will account for about 8 percent of China’s GDP, according to Zhao.

Ji Hengkuan: China needs an integrated standardization approach for NEVs

To help promote the industrialization of new energy vehicles, China needs to have an integrated approach as far as standardization is concerned, said Ji Hengkuan, vice president of China High-Tech Industrialization Association.

“This integrated standard would at least cover 300-400 separate standards along the NEV industrial chain,” said Ji. “And coordination among various departments and institutions is needed.”

Ji suggested that China establish an EV standardization drafting team and complete the draft of the integrated standard within two to three years. Ji drew his experience from his tenure at the former Ministry of Electronics, where he headed a team that drafted a national integrated standard for color television that included more than 400 separate national-level and department-level standards.

Tian Sheng: China could become key component supplier for BMW’s new energy vehicles

BMW is expected to increase investment in R&D as well as local procurement of parts and components in China for its future new energy vehicles, in addition to bringing global products to China, said Tian Sheng, senior manager, E-Mobility and Business Analysis, BMW China.

“We hope to see more locally made components in our future new energy vehicles,” said Tian, who believes that China could become one of the first countries in the world to industrialize new energy vehicles or electric vehicles.

BMW has already been working with Tongji University since 2008 on a project named “ECHO,” which involves a pure electric vehicle concept prototype that has virtually all key battery components supplied by Chinese manufacturers. This is mainly to help BMW gauge the possibility of China as a key component supplier for its future NEVs, according to Tian.

BMW will also deliver 50 units of its MINI E to select customers in Beijing and Shenzhen for a five-month field test, as part of its own effort to prepare launch of its first EV production model, the Megacity Vehicle (MCV), in 2013.

“All of these efforts are to help us explore and determine the best new energy vehicle solution specific to the Chinese market,” added Tian.

However, Tian revealed that the MINI E is only a concept model for R&D and would not be mass produced in the future.

Chen Quanshi: Local EV standards must be in line with national standards

“Those EV standards issued by local governments should not go against national standards,” Chen Quanshi, director of the EV Committee under the Society of Automotive Engineering China, told CBU/CAR. “Local standards can be more detailed and stricter, but must be based on the main principles of national standards.”

“China has the ability to innovate in making standards on electric vehicles,” said Chen. “China has been ahead of other countries in the development of electric vehicles in certain aspects, which puts great pressure on us in making related standards since we have no reference point.”

According to Chen, China has issued 42 national standards related to electric vehicles, including electric motorcycles. He also disclosed that the draft Standards on Communication Protocols Between Off-Board Conductive Charger and Battery Management System for Electric Vehicles has been released for comments and suggestions.

“China is also going to make standards related to communication protocols of charging equipment and battery change, said Chen. “But I think the mode of battery change will be much more difficult to proceed than it sounds to be. If there are few electric vehicles, the battery change business could not be started.”

Chen believes the Chinese government’s choice of pure electric vehicles as future focus is due to three reasons: energy structure, technological level and natural resource reserves. “First, China is relatively short of oil reserves, which can only last 15 years. Smart grid could help realize full use of off-peak electricity generated by wind, solar and water. Second, China lacks key technology for traditional engines and powertrain. In contrast, it has a sound basis for the development of electric vehicles. Third, China owns the most rear earth and the third most lithium resources in the world. I have even visited a lithium mine located in Qinghai Province. The lithium ore there can last at least 100 years for China.”

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