Carmakers going green to woo China
After saying no to scantilyclad models, this year’s auto show in Shanghai displayed a diverse range of lightweight, fuel-efficient electric vehicles with lower emissions.
The 2015 Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition took innovation as its theme. Many carmakers showed off their use of new technologies that are more energy efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels.
BMW’s X5 xDrive40e is a new plug-in hybrid vehicle and the first mainstream BMW to use a plug-in system. It is powered by a turbocharged fourcylinder engine and electric motor but can also drive on electric power alone.
Toyota’s Mirai, or “future” in Japanese, uses an electric motor but has no batteries and relies instead on burned hydrogen.
BYD, a pioneer in China’s electric car industry, released its BYD Song, a mid-size SUV.
All new models seemed to follow the same script: cutting greenhouse gas emissions by lifting power efficiency and leaning more on electric power.
China pledged last year to achieve peak carbon-dioxide emissions around 2030, the first time the government has set such a timeframe. This commitment is expected to impact many related industries.
The country has been driving the expansion of electricpowered mobility with extensive support programs for several years. Related subsidies issued to promote the use of such clean-energy vehicles now total around 52 billion yuan ($8.38 billion).
China has also widened its network of charging stations and established a cooperation network for public sector companies engaged in e-mobility solutions, according to a recent report by Roland Berger.
The country’s cumulative sales of 53,000 new electric cars make it the world’s secondlargest market, yet the share of electric and hybrid vehicles sold accounts for just 0.2 percent of all car sales in China. This puts it significantly behind the leading automotive nations, Roland Berger reported.
Other solutions have also been applied to reduce carbon emissions and make driving more environmentally friendly in China as many American companies have been leveraging the potential growth in this field in China.
Atlanta-based Novelis, one of the world’s leading aluminum suppliers for automobile makers, has been cooperating with several Chinese car brands to develop tailor-made aluminum to make cars lighter and more fuel-efficient.
A car’s weight can be reduced by up to 40 percent through the use of such materials, which can translate as fuel savings of over 20 percent and slash carbon emissions by onequarter, according to Novelis.
Cleveland-based Eaton, a power-management company, is all set to introduce its OnBoard Refueling Vapor Recovery system to the Chinese market. The vehicle emission control system collects fuel vapor that evaporates during a vehicle’s refueling process in order to burn it during its normal operation.
This technology reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 95 percent during refueling. Refueling accounts for about half of a vehicle’s total hydrocarbon emissions each year. The system has been used in the United States for nearly 20 years.
Wisconsin-headquartered Johnson Controls also announced some new technology at this year’s auto show in the form of its advanced startstop vehicle batteries.
Start-stop has emerged as one of the preferred technologies for meeting China’s and other major countries’ targets for reduced emissions by enabling fuel-economy savings of 5 percent over a conventional vehicle.
“It requires minimal changes to the vehicles and costs significantly less than hybrid or electric vehicles,” said Lisa Bahash, group vice-president of global original equipment for Johnson Controls Power Solutions.
The technology automatically shuts off the engine when the car is idle and restarts it when the driver’s foot leaves the brake pedal. During this time, the vehicle’s electrical systems — from entertainment to lights — use energy from an advanced lead-acid battery rather than the gas-powered engine.
Less than 5 percent of new vehicles in China have startstop technology installed at the moment but Johnson Controls predicts this will rise to 40 percent within five years.