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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 8:29am
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hybrid vehicles can rev up China's push for 'new energy' cars

Andreuw Gunawan says consumers aren't ready to embrace Beijing's push for battery-powered cars

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 3:21am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 3:21am

With toxic smog reaching China's inland cities and pollution levels breaking records in Shanghai, it's clear why the government is pushing Chinese companies to develop fully electric battery-powered cars, with the goal of radically changing the market by 2020. It is offering purchase subsidies, tax exemptions and research and development incentives.

Other electric vehicles such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids enjoy government benefits too, but the Communist Party wants local and international companies to focus on developing battery-powered electric vehicles.

Some believe this is an effort to give domestic companies the chance to develop new technology in a highly globalised market dominated by foreign firms. As auto executives know, cars sold to Chinese consumers need to be produced from start to finish on Chinese soil.

By 2020, China's energy consumption is set to double, according to projections by Liu Zhenya, president of the State Grid Corporation. By then the number of private cars, the largest energy consumers and worst carbon-dioxide emitters, is projected to hit 200 million. In contrast, public transport - buses and taxis - account for over 80 per cent of the hybrid vehicle market.

With the number of first-time car buyers at unprecedented levels, and continuing to grow, now is the time to direct consumers towards green, or "new energy", vehicles.

China's 12th five-year plan aims to reduce energy consumption by 16 per cent.

The government launched a "10 Cities, Thousand Vehicles" programme in 2009 to support electric vehicle development by providing subsidies, a plan that was eventually extended to 25 pilot cities. Further, in 2012, the State Council announced plans to put 500,000 battery-powered vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015.

Green vehicles have been divided into two categories: energy-saving vehicles and new- energy vehicles. The former, or those with biofuel engines and hybrid electric engines, receive purchase subsidies of only 3,000 yuan (HK$3,800). In contrast, buyers of plug-in hybrids are eligible for 35,000 yuan purchase subsidies, while battery-powered electric vehicles attract 60,000 yuan in subsidies.

Yet, even with such large subsidies and pressure from the government, car companies are struggling to make battery-powered vehicles attractive to Chinese consumers, who worry about performance, maintenance and access to recharging stations. Sales of domestically produced vehicles, such as the BYD e6, have been disappointing.

Chinese consumers are mainly shunning battery-powered vehicles because of fears about unreliable technology; in particular, the vehicles' poor range compared with regular cars and a lack of charging stations.

Companies responsible for designing infrastructure worry about meeting government targets by 2015 (2,000 charging stations). A vicious cycle is created in which consumers won't buy battery-powered cars because they can't charge them, and producers don't build charging stations because people won't buy electric cars.

But a third way exists. Hybrid vehicles, especially plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, could be a stop-gap measure to reaching government targets. Toyota and Nissan are working to localise production of their hybrid and plug-in hybrids. BYD , the Chinese car producer, is hoping to make up for 2012's low battery-powered vehicle sales following the launch last year of a new hybrid electric vehicle series.

The secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, Dong Yang, believes hybrid vehicles should be the "main technology" to promote energy saving and emission targets in the automotive sector.

Hybrids not only increase market demand and meet consumer requirements, but also buy producers more time because they work with existing infrastructure. They suit Chinese consumers in three major ways: price, efficiency and ease of use.

Much rests on how willing the government is to support hybrid electric vehicles as a transitional technology. It should encourage international companies to localise and compete with domestic companies. Subsidies could be tied to a vehicle's fuel efficiency instead of its type or engine.

The question is, would this be enough to substantially reduce China's energy consumption and reliance on oil? Without a doubt, citizens are already paying for its breakneck development with their health. The anger that existed over land seizures is now also directed at environmental pollution.

Without drastic changes and programmes such as the pilot carbon-tax initiative, the market will not meet the health needs of the people. At the same time, battery-powered electric vehicles will fail without the necessary time for improvements to the current infrastructure.

Andreuw Gunawan is a senior consultant at Solidiance, an Asia-focused marketing consultancy firm which has recently released a white paper titled "EV In China - Moving Forward but not as fast as expected"

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kelfin.planck
Mark Goldes, starting in the mid-seventies, engaged for several years in the pretense that his company SunWind Ltd was developing a nearly production-ready, road-worthy, wind-powered "windmobile," based on the windmobile invented by James Amick.
After SunWind "dried up" in 1983, Goldes embarked on the long-running pretense that his company Room Temperature Superconductors Inc was developing room-temperature superconductors; and that therefore Room Temperature Superconductors Inc would be a wonderful investment opportunity. He continues the pretense that the company developed something useful, even to this day.
And then Goldes embarked on the pretense that his company Magnetic Power Inc was developing "NO FUEL ENGINES" based on "Virtual Photon Flux;" and then, on the pretense that MPI was developing horn-powered "NO FUEL ENGINES" based on the resonance of magnetized tuning-rods; and then, on the pretense that his company Chava LLC (aka "Chava Energy") was developing water-fueled engines based on "collapsing hydrogen orbitals" (which are ruled out by quantum physics); and then, on the pretense that he was developing strictly-ambient-heat-powered "NO FUEL ENGINES" (which are ruled out by the Second Law of Thermodynamics).
Goldes' forty-year career of "revolutionary breakthrough" pretense has nothing to do with science, but only with pseudoscience and relentless flimflam.
kelfin.planck
Mark Goldes' "Aesop Institute" has engaged for many years in the very dishonest and unscrupulous practice of soliciting loans and donations under an endless series of false pretenses, that it is developing and even "prototyping" various "revolutionary breakthroughs," such as "NO FUEL ENGINES" that run on ambient heat alone - or run on "Virtual Photon Flux" - or on "Collapsing Hydrogen Orbitals" - or even on the acoustic energy of sound from a horn.
Aesop Institute's make-believe strictly ambient heat engine is ruled out by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This has been understood by physicists for at least 180 years. There is no "new science" that has ever determined such an engine to be possible.
Aesop Institute's make-believe "Virtual Photon Flux" engine is based on the idea that accessible electric power "is everywhere present in unlimited quantities" - which we know to be false.
Aesop Institute's make-believe "Collapsing Hydrogen Orbits" engine is based on Randell Mills' theory of "hydrino" hydrogen, which every scientist knows to be false.
Aesop Institute's make-believe horn-powered engine is based on the pretense that a magnetized tuning rod could somehow "multiply energy" - a ludicrous notion, which is obviously ruled out by the law of conservation of energy.
kelfin.planck
One of the most laughable of Mark Goldes' many make-believe "breakthroughs" is his "POWERGENIE" horn-powered generator. The brilliant idea of this revolutionary breakthrough is to blow a horn at a magnetized tuning rod, designed to resonate at the frequency of the horn, and then collect the electromotive energy produced by the vibrations of the rod.
We're not making this up.
POWERGENIE tuning rod engine explained - from the patent:
[The device incorporates] "an energy transfer and multiplier element being constructed of a ferromagnetic substance... having a natural resonance, due to a physical structure whose dimensions are directly proportional to the wavelength of the resonance frequency...
"In this resonant condition, the rod material functions as a tuned waveguide, or longitudinal resonator, for acoustic energy...
"Ferrite rod 800 is driven to acoustic resonance at the second harmonic of its fundamental resonant frequency by acoustic horn 811..."
- But the patent doesn't tell us who will volunteer to blow the horn at the rod all day. Perhaps it will come with an elephant.
Mark Goldes claimed in 2008 that this wonderful triumph of human genius would bring his company, Magnetic Power Inc, one billion dollars in annual revenue by 2012. Magnetic Power is now defunct, having never produced any "Magnetic Power Modules."
kelfin.planck
In Mark Goldes' patent application for his ludicrous "POWERGENIE" horn-powered tuning-rod engine, he described the tuning-rod as "an energy transfer and multiplier element."
But of course, for the tuning-rod to "multiply" energy, it would need to disprove the law of conservation of energy.
Goldes' use of the term "energy multiplier element" reflected his pretense that the "revolutionary breakthrough" of the amazing "POWERGENIE" could disprove the law of conservation of energy, by presenting the world with a working "energy multiplier."
Goldes even claimed in 2008 that the POWERGENIE had been demonstrated already in an electric car, driven 4800 miles by his energy-multiplying horn-powered tuning-rod.
But it seems that most people, for some reason, had difficulty accepting the notion that the law of conservation of energy could be proven false.
And Goldes no doubt noticed that the Second Law of Thermodynamics - that "the entropy of an isolated system tends to increase with time and can never decrease" - is much less clear to most people than the conservation of energy.
So now, after leaving aside the pretense that he could somehow "multiply energy" with a magnetized tuning-rod, Goldes has chosen to focus, instead, on the pretense that he can disprove the Second Law with an engine powered only by ambient heat.
kelfin.planck
Mark Goldes' proofless claims regarding his make-believe strictly ambient heat engine do not represent any new technology, or even a new pretense - they merely represent a rather old pretense.
"Before the establishment of the Second Law, many people who were interested in inventing a perpetual motion machine had tried to circumvent the restrictions of First Law of Thermodynamics by extracting the massive internal energy of the environment as the power of the machine. Such a machine is called a "perpetual motion machine of the second kind". The second law declared the impossibility of such machines."
"A perpetual motion machine of the second kind is a machine which spontaneously converts thermal energy into mechanical work. When the thermal energy is equivalent to the work done, this does not violate the law of conservation of energy. However it does violate the more subtle second law of thermodynamics (see also entropy). The signature of a perpetual motion machine of the second kind is that there is only one heat reservoir involved... This conversion of heat into useful work, without any side effect, is impossible, according to the second law of thermodynamics."
Goldes' make-believe strictly ambient heat engine would be a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, as defined above. Goldes is not developing any such engine; he is merely developing a pretense - as usual.
kelfin.planck
The Kelvin-Planck formulation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics may be stated as follows:
"No cyclic process driven simply by heat can accomplish the absorption of the heat from a reservoir and the conversion of such heat into work - without any other result (such as a transfer of heat to a cooler reservoir)."
Now, as you will see, the Clausius formulation of the Second Law may be stated with fewer words:
"No process is possible whose sole result is the transfer of heat from a cooler to a hotter body."
In fact, we can show that the Kelvin-Planck formulation may be deduced from that of Clausius. In the words of Enrico Fermi:
"Suppose that Kelvin's postulate were not valid. Then we could perform a transformation whose only final result would be to transform completely into work a definite amount of heat taken from a single source at the temperature t1. By means of friction we could then transform this work into heat again and with this heat raise the temperature of a given body, regardless of what its initial temperature, t2, may have been. In particular, we could take t2 to be higher than t1. Thus, the only final result of this process would be the transfer of heat from one body (the source at temperature t1) to another body at a higher temperature, t2. This would be a violation of the Clausius postulate."
kelfin.planck
Max Planck, in his "Treatise On Thermodynamics," explains how the Second Law of Thermodynamics "may be deduced from a single simple law of experience about which there is no doubt." Here is the "single simple law of experience" he proposes:
"It is impossible to construct an engine which will work in a complete cycle, and produce no effect except the raising of a weight and the cooling of a heat-reservoir."
This "law of experience" is very similar to a principle suggested by William Thomson (Lord Kelvin):
"It is impossible, by means of inanimate material agency, to derive mechanical effect from any portion of matter by cooling it below the temperature of the coldest of the surrounding objects."
The "simple law of experience" offered by Planck is therefore commonly known as the "Kelvin-Planck statement" of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. But we see from Planck's "Treatise" that Planck himself did not quite regard it as a statement of the Second Law, but rather as a "starting point" or postulate from which the Second Law may be deduced.
kelfin.planck
The Second Law of Thermodynamics rules out strictly ambient heat engines.
Expecting an ambient heat engine to do any work, with only one heat reservoir, is exactly equivalent to expecting a teapot to boil water by absorbing heat from a block of ice.
Both processes are ruled out by the very same law - the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
"It is impossible for any device operating on a cycle to produce net work from a single temperature reservoir; the production of net work requires flow of heat from a higher temperature reservoir to a colder reservoir."
In a strictly ambient heat engine there are not two heat reservoirs at different temperatures; no reservoir would be available at any temperature other than the ambient temperature. Therefore the engine would have to DECREASE the total entropy - and therefore we know for certain that the engine will disappoint us. It will never be able to do any work.
Flow of heat from a block of ice to lukewarm water would also result in a DECREASE of the total entropy.
Once again: Expecting an ambient heat engine to do any work, with only one heat reservoir, is exactly equivalent to expecting a teapot to boil water by absorbing heat from a block of ice. Anyone who claims to be developing a "prototype" of such an engine is only developing a pretense, and nothing more.
kelfin.planck
Mark Goldes' latest adventure in flimflam is to declare that a "FUEL-FREE TURBINE invented by a Russian scientist runs on atmospheric pressure."
But when we read the patent application, we find that actually the turbine does NOT run on atmospheric pressure - it requires compressed air. This is clearly indicated even in the article by Kondrashov posted by Goldes on his flimflam website. Kondrashov says:
"To create a sample of such an engine, you can use ready-made devices, such as a load-bearing element - a low-power turbine module turboshaft turbine engine, and to compress the air... any type of compressor..."
Kondrashov filed his patent application in 2003. No patent was awarded.
Mark Goldes assures us in his note prefacing Kondrashov's article that "We understand the science behind this jet engine." But since he incorrectly describes it as an engine powered by "atmospheric pressure" - which it certainly is not - in fact he shows that he doesn't even understand that the engine requires a supply of compressed air in order to spin at all.
What Kondrashov actually presents in his patent application is a perpetual motion machine in the form of a self-powered air compressor. This is probably the reason why no patent was awarded. It is exactly analogous to trying to use a generator to power a motor to spin the generator to power the motor to spin the generator. It doesn't work.
mark.goldes
Fuel-free turbines are likely to make possible hybrid electric cars that need no fuel. See www.aesopinstitute.org
These turbines will follow the development of No Fuel Piston Engines which are presently the focus of the prototype program.
Both engines will utilize atmospheric heat, a form of solar energy that has never before been tapped and contains far more energy than all the fossil fuels on the planet.
The challenge is rapidly completing the prototypes and providing sample engines to independent laboratories for validation.
Both engines circumvent the Second Law of Thermodynamics which most scientist believe is impossible. A few post extensive rants as they are certain such work must reflect dishonesty or fraud. Second Law Surprises on the AESOP Institute website explains the new science.
However, skepticism is understandable until independent labs validate the engines. That is likely in the not-too-distant future.
The fuel-free turbines are also expected to scale to large sizes and prove capable of replacing coal and nuclear fuel.
The challenge is rapid completion of the prototype.China is a huge potential market for these new technologies and can benefit greatly from their commercialization.

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