Patience needed for the Chinese EV industry

China's future in the EV industry will be better served with lower and more realistic goals, as well as patience, to have a bright future going forward.

08/05/2011


The Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, recently criticised the country’s slow development of its electric vehicle industry. The recent decision to incentivise only battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids appears to have been made in haste, China’s future direction may lie in fuel cell and hybrid vehicles as well. Wen also commented that the Chinese EV industry is still nascent – it is ‘following’  foreign companies and overly reliant on overseas international companies for components and materials. This obviously doesn't match the Chinese government's goal of making its EV industry one of the most advanced in the world.

Alongside this, several recent EV accidents in Hangzhou and Shanghai, involving the batteries on Chinese branded EVs causing fires have made it hard for me to imagine a very bright future for the Chinese EV industry in the short term. Are local Chinese suppliers really able to develop commercially and technologically successful EVs and, more importantly, do so quickly enough to make the Chinese EV industry one of the most advanced in the world?

In my opinion, there are three factors restricting EV development in China that will be difficult to overcome in the short term. First, most local EV suppliers such as Zotye and BYD, focus on the low-end of the vehicle market and consequently invest relatively little in R+D for traditional vehicles. Thus, it will be hard for them to quickly develop the more advanced technologies needed for electric vehicle design.

Second, the stereotypical image of Chinese VMs, even in China, is one of “Low-cost, low quality." Many consumers try to avoid these brands when they choose to purchase a traditional vehicle, let alone an electric vehicle. It will take time for Chinese VMs to change this perception and hence the early market opportunity for Chinese branded Evs will be quite limited.

Third, the Chinese EV industry is currently short of experienced, high quality technical experts, particularly in the area of the EV powertrain – the most complex part of the design. China (and Chinese companies) will need to invest in sending researchers to those countries which currently hold leading positions in EV technologies, such as Japan, France and Germany to learn best practice.

In summary, China would do better to lower its expectations for its EV industry. Setting some specific medium and longer term goals and working to gradually achieve these goals will bring results provided the effort and investment is carefully targeted. This new strategy will only work if specific long term attention is given to developing new technologies and improving quality. China needs patience to see a bright future for its EV industry.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.