Tuesday, May 11, 2010

US and China Will Cooperate, Not Compete, on Electric Cars

BYD e6 Electric Car

China's BYD said on Friday it would put its North American headquarters in Los Angeles and soon begin selling electric cars, like the e6.

China is often regarded as a major threat to the US auto industry for two major reasons. First, as of last year, China surpassed the US to become the biggest auto market in the world and it�"s getting bigger. Second, the Chinese government wants to go directly to electric cars and skip past the gasoline internal combustion engine. According to experts on the Chinese electric vehicle market, China is much more likely to be a partner than a competitor in building an electric car future.

Why would China want to work with the US to produce electric vehicles? In simple terms, the country is desperate for rapid change. �SThe country has big problems and needs big solutions. Their current pathway is not sustainable,⬝ said Roland Hwang, transportation program Manager at the Natural Resource Defense Council. Those problems include dismal air quality and a need to import as much as 80 percent of their oil for its cars by 2030. Hwang and other experts discussed China and electric cars at last week�"s Electric Cars 2.0, a Berkeley-Stanford Cleantech Conference, in San Francisco.

China has the need but faces major challenges to achieving its electric car goals. It�"s about five to 10 years behind the world in automotive technology, quality and safety. And the average Chinese consumer can�"t afford the $5,000 or so price premium for an electric car.

Risks and Rewards

This spells opportunity for US companies. Jit Bhattacharya, CEO of Mission Motors, said his company�"s phone rings off the hook with Chinese companies seeking help with anything that runs on electric power, from cars and scooters, to lawn and garden equipment. Mission Motors manufactures a $68,000 150-mile-per-hour electric motorcycle in California, but has shifted much of its business to selling its electric-powertrain technology. �SChinese companies call us, and say we don�"t know how we�"re going to get on this learning curve fast enough to actually get a vehicle to market in the next three to four years.⬝

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Read More... [Source: HybridCars.com]

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