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Mar 16

Is China the plug in hybrid vehicle paradise?

Written by guest on Monday, March 16th, 2009 at 12:00 am
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Casually browsing through the internet I stumbled over this article about plug in hybrid cars. Here is the link

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=electric-cars-cost-per-charge

The article compares the relative costs and advantages of plug in hybrid vehicles respect to conventional gas powered vehicles.

The article makes some major claims about energy resource consumption and pollution, that when translated to CH would have a greater impact that in the US, mainly:

  • Powering a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) would cost the equivalent of roughly 75 cents per gallon of gasoline—a price not seen at the pump for 30 years.
  • 52% of US oil imports could be spared.
  • three-quarters of the country’s current small vehicle fleet could be charged by our existing electrical grid without building new power plants.
  • Reduction of greenhouse gases from 3.4 to 10.3 billion tons.

Some of the major promise of (PHEV) can, of course, only be achieved if certain conditions hold.

  • Average daily displacement within range of vehicle batteries
  • Hybrid vehicle able to be propelled by electric engine only
  • Increase electric load would not mean an increased pollution of coal fired power plants or could be taken by renewable non polluting energy sources: Solar, wind power and hydro power(non polluting?).

Which type of vehicle would provide the greatest economic and envriomental advantages when substitured by its equivalent PEHV?

  • Personal cars
  • Taxis
  • Trucks
  • Public buses

Given the rapid growth on car ownership, trucks on the road, industrial and traffic generated pollution in CH main cities, population density, etc. Could be CH the PHEV paradise?

What do you think?


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14 Responses to “Is China the plug in hybrid vehicle paradise?”

  1. Chops Says:

    Looks like the authorities are offering subsidies for hydrids, with the highest going to fuel cell powered buses.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssIndustryMaterialsUtilitiesNews/idUSSHA22946120090219

    Buses are good candidates since they generally use the most petrol.

    But the scary thing is that hydrid buses with electric engines may be almost silent.
    Imagine a five-tonner coming from behind and you don’t hear it coming.

  2. TonyP4 Says:

    I read several articles too. Here is my summary from my memory.

    * China will have a hard time to import cars using gasoline. There are many factors beside labor advantages: technology, emission control, dealership network…

    * However, the battery car (may not be hybrid) is competitive. It is built by the company that builds the lithium battery and Warren Buffet has a good investment on it.

    Could be only 2 companies in the world using this technology (basically lithium). The one in US is buying the car from China to see whether they violate their patent. Lithium is not safe with Sony’s laptop explosion.

    * The Chinese car will cost about $20K or so vs $40K or so the US model. Hence it would be huge cost benefit.

    * While you can charge at home, it really needs to have more chargers available thru out the city to make them more useful.

    * It is silent, clean, and no pollution. It is still bulky. With one simple drive trains (vs two from hybrid), it is easy to maintain.

    * It is a threat to the oil companies and oil-producing countries in the very long run.

    * Hydrogen is not competitive at least for a while due to the safety and the obvious reluctance of the oil companies to put them in their ‘gas’ stations.

  3. ecodelta Says:

    @chops
    “But the scary thing is that hydrid buses with electric engines may be almost silent.
    Imagine a five-tonner coming from behind and you don’t hear it coming.”

    Easy solution. Just artificially generate sound. Many trucks and buses emit a warning sound when going in reverse. Use the same trick for forward movements.

    Design the sound in such a way that is not annoying but loud enough to warm pedestrians of “incoming death approaching”

    With some imagination, special sounds could be defined according to type of vehicle. Also sound emission cone could be optimized to be more intensive in those areas in front of the vehicle where a pedestrian is not supposed to be.

  4. FOARP Says:

    Actually, the ‘silent running’ problem is more than a bit of an exaggeration – ever stood in the countryside and heard vehicles moving on a road from a few miles away? Most of the noise that reaches you is not engine noise, but the lower-frequency sound of the wheels on the road. Likewise, electric trains are pretty loud even if their motors aren’t all that noisy – you just can’t move something that heavy without making a noise. Take it from someone who is a few years away at most from needing a hearing aid to follow ordinary conversation, electric/hybrid trucks etc. won’t need anything except the reverse-warning that most of them already have.

  5. ecodelta Says:

    @tonyP4
    “* While you can charge at home, it really needs to have more chargers available thru out the city to make them more useful.”

    It would be convenient to have chargers available through the city. But with an hybrid plug in car, you can charge at home, no need to wait for a big enough charges network to be installed all over the city. Just need at home installation. The trick of the strong hybrid is that you can do most of day to day commuter trips on the battery, if a longer trip is needed or for some reasons battery are low the combustion engine just kick in. Definitely and advantage over a pure electric vehicle.
    Also consider that such amenities as air conditioning would drain the batteries, better to have a backup at hand.

    “* It is a threat to the oil companies and oil-producing countries in the very long run.”
    Not so much. Oil is an useful stuff. With many more uses than simply burning it: all kinds of plastics, fertilizers, lubricants, etc. Some people even claim that it is crazy to burn oil.

    “* It is silent, clean, and no pollution. It is still bulky. With one simple drive trains (vs two from hybrid), it is easy to maintain.”
    The E-Flex drive train from GMs Volt looks interesting. Small petrol engine, running always on engine’s sweet spot , no mechanical gears or transmission. Could be a good compromise between classical hybrid (Toyota Prius) and pure electrical vehicle. Not quite sure about efficiency loses of such combination.

    “* Hydrogen is not competitive at least for a while due to the safety and the obvious reluctance of the oil companies to put them in their ‘gas’ stations.”
    Besides, hydrogen is difficult to generate, transport and store. It is difficult to prevent it to escape, the molecule is too small. I do not believe H will be ever used as fuel on cars. It makes only sense in Fusion nuclear reactions. Energy density in that case would be really unbeatable. But that must wait until we get the necessary technology.

  6. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi Ecodelta,

    Eventually, we will have a charger on every meter. The first commercial electric car will have 150 miles range. Hope there is a small battery for emergency otherwise AAA will be busy. A hybrid does not save when driving in highway.

    The problem with hybrid is the dual drive train though GM is promising one with single drive train. I would make out great to buy a big SUV when no one wanted it when gasoline was $4. My yearly driving is 5,000 miles.

    The majority use of oil is gasoline and it will for a long time.

  7. Inst Says:

    One problem is that traditionally battery-power has an awful energy density; to store energy as an eletrochemical reaction is a lot more difficult than doing the same with combustion fuels.

    Further, research in battery capacity is pretty slow, although I’m not sure whether it’s a function of the capital devoted to battery capacity, or whether the laws of physics just won’t let us have high-density batteries.

  8. TonyP4 Says:

    Let me rephrase my statement. When oil is refined, it has many products but oil is the one the refining is targeted for for its value.

  9. Allen Says:

    Battery powered mopeds are already popular in many cities on the Mainland (curiously they are not in cities in Taiwan).

    My cousin in Taiwan complained to me that electric mopeds are not that powerful and do not go that far.

    Does anyone know why electric mopeds can make it so big on the Mainland but fail in Taiwan?

    The answer may answer how popular electric cars or hybrid cars will be in China.

  10. Allen Says:

    Also – to follow up on my comment in #9, does anyone know whether there is any company or whether the gov’t is systematically installing charging receptacles for electric mopeds / cars? If so – what cities?

  11. Inst Says:

    There’s actually persecution versus two-wheelers in China; motorcycles are banned in many areas due to the traffic danger they pose.

  12. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #9: Allen, my guess, and it is only a guess, is that the Taiwan moped manufacturers don’t have the battery technology at this time to do so and I’m sure there’s some government protection against imports.

    At least to me, the mopeds in Taiwan always seemed underpowered since I grew up on 500cc+ motorcycles. It’s weird to go down a road on a 50 or 75cc motorbike, but the traffic is so heavy that no one ever drives very fast, and you get to ignore many traffic rules in the process. 😉

    If there aren’t any electric mopeds in Taiwan, how would your cousin know they were underpowered? Wouldn’t he first have to take a test drive?

    I found, at least in Shanghai, that I could make great time on a regular bicycle in the downtown parts of the city. I’d go faster than the autos and could usually beat them through the next traffic light. It wasn’t until the roads opened up further into the suburbs where they’d have a real advantage. But I also noticed that while I was there, the city began to make certain roads off-limits to bicycles. If this keeps up, having an electric moped would be a quick, inexpensive way to get around without having to detour as you would on a bike, and without having to expend any physical energy. Unless, however, the mopeds are also off-limits on some streets as Inst related.

    I think the best way to encourage electric moped use would be to have exclusive traffic lanes for these mopeds only. Ease of access would cause many to change over.

    Do you know if the electric brands popular on the mainland are also manufactured there? The gasoline powered ones in Taiwan were two stroke and heavy polluters, even the ones with catalytic converters and fuel injection. They weren’t maintained all that well either. I’m sure they are a major contributor to the air pollution that always seems to haze up Taipei, which for the most part sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains.

  13. Allen Says:

    @Steve #12,

    You asked:

    If there aren’t any electric mopeds in Taiwan, how would your cousin know they were underpowered? Wouldn’t he first have to take a test drive?

    There weren’t any that I noticed. But I think they are available. My cousin thought it was way underpowered because she did test ride it. But I am not sure if the Taiwanese model is equivalent to the Mainland models I saw.

    If mopeds are to be allowed – I think the electric versions are really good – no noise, no immediate pollution.

  14. Abraham Quiroga Says:

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