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Chang’an Motor to Develop Hybrid

China Daily. Chang’an Motor Corp, the Chinese partner of Ford Motor and Suzuki Motor, said it will develop its own hybrid for the Chinese market and have it in production by 2008.

The company expects hybrid cars will contribute 10% of its own-brand sales annually by 2010, according to a report in China Daily.

Chang’an said it will spend 250 million yuan (US$31 million) on hybrid cars as part of its total investment of more than 5 billion yuan (US$620 million) to develop own-brand cars in the years to 2010.

It began petrol-electric car development in the late 1990s.

Chang’an Motor also will target the hybrids for the export market. Last month the company said that it intends to increase overall sales from 630,000 vehicles in 2005 to 1.5 million units by the end of the decade, with more than half from its own nameplates. It said it hoped overseas sales would account for 25 to 30% of own-brand sales by then.

Toyota began production of the Prius in China at the end of 2005. Maple, the Shanghai-based unit of China’s biggest privately owned carmaker Geely Automobile, also plans to enter the hybrid car sector in 2008 with an initial output of 5,000 to 10,000 units a year. (Earlier post.)


Rafael Seidl

The Chinese have good engineers and a well-documented disregard for other people's intellectual property. Nevertheless, I suspect that $31 million will not get this company very far, even at Chinese wage levels. The raw materials for electric motors, power semiconductors and battery components are tied to world market prices. You also need some fancy software to co-ordinate the two power plants and the gear box in real time.

Either they've got an ace up their sleeve or they're blowing smoke.


It was my impression, that the Chinese actually control world market prices on rare commodeties like Cobalt, Lithium. Also, within china no one seems to know the cost of something (thanks to planned economy), and as you pointed out, patents and licensing are virtually free within china (cars and trains built by violating those patents could probably not sold outside, but with 1 billion potential customers, thats a few decades in the future).

Besides, a working hybrid can nowadays be build even with small research groups and next to no funding (ie. less than 10 mio USD), issues as longevity, fun to drive, and working on details like the humming of the inverters, the shock when shifting from one operational mode to the other left aside.

Perhaps they come up with a working two-mode like transmission for small cars before GM/DC/BMW get their act together and introduce it for SUVs in 2-4 years time...

Sid Hoffman

It says their hybrid product development started in the 1990's. I'll bet it started as soon as they stole a 1st generation Prius or two and took it apart to start copying the design. There's no such thing as original thought in the Chinese auto industry, they're all just bad copies of other designs.


Many electronic components can be purchased from China at very low prices...reliability may be questionable though (I've had Chinese sourced transistors go into thermal breakdown way outside of spec and I had to find a US supplier of the components).


"The Chinese have good engineers"

Maybe better than North Korea's, but not by much. They are Okay at de-engineering (stealing) but thats about it.


Hi, its my first comment here ! $31 million not enough ? Maybe they can take the less costly serial-hybrid way. If Electricité de France plans to sell his fleet of old EVs here, maybe i can buy one cheap, even with a half-dead battery pack, and put a 15 Kw genset onboard ? (with a modified camshaft for Atkinson cycle). It will cost me much less than a Prius. But a motor in wheel seems better (Mitsubishi MIEV). Your comments against Chinese are the same than against Japanese 25 years ago, until they begun to make better products than the West, so be carefull...


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would suggest you reconsider your opinion of Chinese engineers, and while you are at it, also of their entrepreneurial capabilities. In the technologies pertinent to hybrid electric vehicles, the Chinese engineering capability is WORLD LEADING. If you don't believe me, go to the IEEE website and look at any power electronics or motor control or motor design paper and check out the authors' biographies. Take a look at the graduate school rosters at Virginia Tech, RPI, and Wisconsin - the main power electronics schools in the US. We throw insults their way at our own peril.

They are only hamstrung by their government, and perhaps by some infrastructure problems, but that will not last long.

I do grant you that there is a big problem with intellectual property, but our courts are also plenty busy with infringement cases among westerners, so you can't pin that problem exclusively on Chinese.

Roger Pham

Besides, ICE-electric hybrid can be very simple. A few guys with engine and electrical knowledge with a garage and a machine shop can do it with a few hundred thousands dollars using commercially-available hardwares. Imagine a small ICE with camshaft modified for Atkinson-cycle driving a small CVT to provide enough torque for cruise, and an electric motor at the rear wheels connected to the rear wheel. For acceleration, both the ICE and battery-motor provide power. For cruise, only the ICE-CVT. Braking recuperation is by motor-battery. Engine shuts down during coasting and stopping. Battery motor provide initial acceleration until engine is started while car is in motion. No new tech, no hi-tech here. There are plenty of previous EV's and HEV's to reverse-engineer.

I just don't understand the rationale for the complicated dual-mode hybrid transmission design by GM et al, with all kinds of gears, two motors etc...

hampden wireless

$31 million is enough with wages at 1/5 what ours are. Think about it, a group of grad students can build advanced WORKING hybrid prototypes for far less. They have less safty and air regulations as well and I am sure they have a few Priuses to take apart.


Many Chinese companies approach the US market with what they call the "Japanese Method": Enter the market with a budget, value oriented product (otherwise known as the cheapest) and then build Lexuses. HYT Shenzhen who is #5 in the world for radios and #1 in China is attempting to break into the US Land Mobile Radio market in exactly this manner at this very moment.


I agree with Roy that Chinese engineers can produce world-class products. The problem is that most western retailers of Chinese goods demand lowest possible price, totally disregarding quality, and this demand meets supply…

China does dominate world supply in variety of raw materials, but this is not a concern with Li and Co. Li is produced by electrolysis from high mineral’s brines, notably in South America, and could be produced from sea water. Co is by-product of variety of polymetal ores, and is widely available. The only commodity critical to HEV and in total control of China currently is Neodime, rare Earth metal used in powerful permanent magnets, which are the hart of electric motors universally used on HEVs. The only possible alternative which I am aware of is innovative electric motors from Raser Tech. (RZ).

Harvey D.

Chinese already makes million of cars & hybrids a year and millions of high quality replacement parts for most cars (and hybrids) on the road. Why should they have problems with manufacturing a few million high quality hybrids a year.

Just because Ford can't or wont build hybrids (for unknown reasons) and GM does not really want to either, doesn't mean that Chinese car builders can't economically and sucessfully build good hybrids and PHEVs.

Unless we impose very high import tariffs, we will see many made in China Hybrids and PHEVs on north American roads by 2008 and 2010 respectively.


To Harvey's point: Ford IS making hybrids and CAN make hybrids, and will make hybrids. As of the end of June 2006 they've sold about 31000 Escape/Mariner hybrids. GM IS making hybrids, CAN make hybrids, and will make hybrids. They are releasing the Saturn Vue this fall, the Saturn Aura and Chevy Malibu next year, they sell the Silverado now, and the Tahoe/Yukon is coming out next year. The Chinese do not yet make millions of hybrids, and the US acceptance of the ones they will start making soon is far from certain.

And, the long term success of HEVs is not guaranteed by any means -- just ask any European.

People should get off the backs of Ford, GM, and Chrysler with respect to hybrids and understand that these companies are in existence to make money, not to satisfy environmentalists, though they are working hard to do both.

Many commentators in this space seem to think designing, producing, and selling world leading vehicles is a snap; if so, you are invited to start your own company and have at it. Ford, GM, Chrysler and other OEMs are not populated by idiots, regardless of what you may think.

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