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China publishes plan to boost fuel-efficient and new energy vehicles and domestic auto industry

China’s State Council has published a plan to develop the domestic energy-saving and new energy vehicle industry, which includes battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and fuel cell vehicles. The central government’s plan, posted on its website, is targeting the production of 500,000 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by 2015, with output to grow to 2 million units of those types by 2020. China is targeting the cumulative production and sales of more than 5 million new energy vehicles, including fuel cell vehicles, by that time as well.

China has made progress with automotive energy-saving technologies over the past 10 years through implementing passenger car fuel consumption limits and the use of fiscal policy to encourage the purchase of small cars, the government statement noted. This progress includes advanced internal combustion engines; efficient transmissions; lightweight materials; and hybrid and other energy-saving technologies. Natural gas and other alternative fuel vehicle technology is basically mature, the government said, and is headed toward initial industrialization. However, generally speaking, the government continued, China has not achieved a breakthrough with new energy automobiles and core components of the key technologies.

Energy-saving and new energy vehicles have become the development direction of the international automobile industry. The next 10 years will usher in the transformation of the global automotive industry and offer important strategic opportunities. The scale of China’s automobile production and sales in the world, is expected to continue to grow. We must seize the opportunity, seize the deployment, speed up the cultivation and development of energy-saving and new energy automotive industry, to promote the optimization of the automobile industry (Energy-saving and new energy vehicle plan).

Under the plan, by 2015 average passenger car fuel consumption is targeted to drop to 6.9 L/100km (34 mpg US) with the fuel consumption of energy-efficient vehicles dropping to 5.9 L/100km (40 mpg US) or less. By 2020, average passenger car fuel consumption is to drop to 5.0 L/100km (47 mpg US), with energy-efficient passenger car fuel consumption dropping to 4.5 L/100km (52.3 mpg US) or less.

New energy vehicles. The plan lays out steps to strengthen the key core technology for new energy vehicles, including:

  • Vigorously promoting battery technology and innovation, with a focus on battery power system security, reliability studies and lightweight design;

  • Accelerating the development of the anode, separator, electrolyte, and other key materials and production, control and detection equipment; the development of new supercapacitor and battery combinations; and promoting assembly standardization and serialization;

  • Focusing on high specific energy and power battery materials, concentrating on breakthroughs in a number of key generic technologies to support long-term development;

  • Focus on supporting the development of the electric traction motor, power electronics, and electric ancillaries;

  • Fuel cell stack research.

Specified performance targets for 2015 for battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric passenger vehicles include:

  • Maximum speed of not less than 100 km/h (62 mph);

  • All-electric driving range of not less than 150 km (93 miles) and 50 km (31 miles), respectively;

  • Battery power/kg target of 150W/kg, at a cost of 2 yuan/Wh ($0.31/Wh), with a cycle life of 2,000 or more than 10 years;

  • Electric drive system power density of 2.5 kW/kg, at a cost of 200 yuan/kW;

  • In 2020, the battery module should have a specific energy of 300 Wh/kg or more.

Energy-efficient automotive technology R & D efforts. To increase overall automobile fuel economy substantially, the government calls for a focus on hybrid technology; the development of a dedicated hybrid engine and the electromechanical coupling devices; and support for the implementation of efficient internal combustion engines.

These include high-pressure common-rail diesel engines; gasoline direct injection; homogeneous combustion; turbo technology; and advanced electronic control technology research and development. The plan also calls for further work on six-speed and higher transmissions; dual clutch automatic transmissions, commercial vehicle automatic mechanical transmission as well as breakthrough low resistance components; lightweight materials; forming and laser welding technology.

Developing the industrial system. The plan puts a great deal of emphasis on accelerating the establishment of a rationalized development system for energy-saving and new energy vehicles. The government intends to guide enterprises to increase investment in R&D in the target areas, and to encourage the establishment of cross-industry energy-saving and new energy vehicle technology development alliances to accelerate the construction of common technology platforms.

While focusing on core technology R&D for battery-electric, PHEVs, hybrid commercial vehicles and fuel cell cars, the government is looking to establish a test platform shared by the related industries. Sharing of product development and patent databases, and resources; the integration of existing scientific and technological resources; the construction of a number of national vehicle and parts research experimental base; the development of a number of enterprise-led, research institutions and institutions of higher learning actively participate in the Industrial Technology Innovation Alliance, are all on the plan. 

The government calls for implementing trademark and brand strategies to strengthen IPR creation, utilization, protection and management, building the patent system of the whole industry chain, and improving industrial competitiveness.

Existing auto companies are to co-ordinate the implementation of the renovation and expansion to consider building a new energy automobile production capacity. In the process of industrial development, we must prevent the low level of blind investment and redundant construction (Energy-saving and new energy vehicle plan).

China is also seeking to promote the large-scale production of traction batteries, with two to three key manufacturing enterprises delivering production and sales of more than 10 billion watts, and handling R&D and production of key materials.

The government also seeks to cultivate 2-3 backbone enterprises in the field of drive motors.

Popularization and demonstration. With new energy vehicles still in the early stages of industrialization, the government called out the need to increase policy support, promote pilot demonstrations, accelerate the development of the market, and promote technological progress and industrial development.

This will include new energy vehicle demonstrations in large- and medium-sized cities, the pilot subsidies for the private purchase of new energy vehicles; city-level pilots for performance verification and production of new energy automotive products; after-sales service; and battery recycling. 

This area also includes exploration of different business models for recharging. 

Fuel cell vehicles demonstrations are to continue, to improve the reliability and durability of the fuel cell system to drive the preparation, storage and filling of hydrogen technology development. 

The government said it would also study and improve the car tax policy system, as well as guide financial institutions to encourage energy conservation and the development of a new energy automotive industry credit management and loan review system. Financial institutions are to promote IPR pledge financing, industrial chain financing and other financial product innovation; accelerate the establishment of multi-level security, including the financial investment and social investment system; and the integrated use of risk compensation policies to promote and increase financial support.

International cooperation. International cooperation will play an important role, the government noted, urging auto companies, universities and research institutions to conduct international collaborative research in the field of energy-saving and new energy auto base and cutting-edge technology, global R&D outsourcing, setting up overseas R&D institutions, carrying out joint research and development and submitting foreign patent applications.

Actively create conditions to carry out a variety of technical exchanges and cooperation and learn from foreign advanced technology and experience (Energy-saving and new energy vehicle plan).

Country tags: PRC

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