China on a charge
THERE WAS A REPORT in The Times of London on 7 June headlined “China cracks the electric car”. That noted: “In the week that General Motors filed for Chapter II bankruptcy protection, the centre of gravity of the word’s car industry shifted perceptibly towards China. Some of the biggest strides in motor engineering are being made on an industrial estate 90 miles south-west of Shanghai.”
The report added: “This is where engineers for New Power have beaten Western rivals to achieve what they claim is the first production-ready all-electric car to offer a performance range comparable to petrol-powered vehicles.”
Writer Ben Younkman continued: “For years engineers in Europe, America and Japan have struggled to achieve a battery small and light enough to fit a family car yet capable of storing enough energy to keep it going for a practical range between top-ups.”
Younkman adds that New Power has “lithium-ion batteries that can be re-charged within six-eight hours by plugging them into a conventional socket.” Here’s what could also be the missing link. A few months ago legendary US entrepreneur Warren Buffett made a littlenoticed announcement that his Berkshire Hathaway group had paid $230m for 10% of an obscure Chinese company, BYD, with particular interests in batteries for electric cars. That sounds as if China really is making major progress in the battery business. It gives a lot more credibility to New Power’s announcements.