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Nikkei Editorial Urges Japan to Match US, China EV Moves

An editorial in Japan’s Nikkei argues that Japanese automakers need to respond aggressively to compete in the rapidly changing global market for electric vehicles.

...both Toyota and Honda had until recently thought that the era of hybrids would continue for a while before electric vehicles began to gain popularity. But the automakers are now accelerating their efforts to develop electric cars, and there are two main reasons for this.

One is the tough new fuel economy rules the US administration of President Barack Obama will introduce in 2012...The second reason for the heightened focus on electric cars is China’s move to promote them. At the end of 2009, Beijing announced a target of increasing the share of electric cars in overall domestic production to 10% in 2015. The government has also created a subsidy program to boost sales of electric vehicles by providing up to 60,000 yuan (770,000 yen) [US$8,800] per unit.

...Beijing has apparently decided to catapult the nation’s auto industry into the electric age by skipping the transitional era of hybrids. The auto industry is clearly facing a major turning point, and trends in China, now the world’s largest car market, will have a huge impact on the global automaking industry.

...China is bent on taking the leadership in carmaking by taking advantage of the revolution now taking shape in the industry. Japanese carmakers need to respond to China’s moves by developing electric vehicles that can compete favorably with rival Chinese offerings in this crucial market.

Comments

Davemart

Now that China is in the driving seat, the emphasis is moving away from the oil-centric American way.
This is great news.

Zhukova

China is apparently thinking that most people wouldn't want to carry that gas tank, exhaust system, engine block, transmission all the time while running on battery power in a PHEV. Since the Volt's battery range is about 40 miles and 80% of drivers go less than 40 miles each day, the ICE will just be expensive dead weight 99% of the time for most Volt owners.

It would be better for GM to make BEVs and work with the gov't to put fast charging stations everywhere, which is already starting to happen. Even LiFePO4 batteries can be fast-charged at 5C. Most of the time the BEVs will be slow charged at home or in the parking lot during work hours.

creativforce

China's already got some sweet little electric cars. I don't know much about them except that I want one: http://greenauto.en.alibaba.com/product/254047555-209282644/Electric_Tricycle.html?tracelog=cgsotherproduct2#productDetailpageLocation

HarveyD

Within 12 to 24 months, 10+ countries will be making restricted e-range BEVs. The only practically way for highway capable EVs (until batteries performance is increased 3x and price is reduced to 1/3) is to have a small on board genset to extend range between charges from 40 miles to 300+ miles. It does not have to be a heavy 4-cyls 100+ hp genset. Something as small as 15-20 hp should do it. A down sized FC of equivalent low power could replace the on board ICE genset whenever the price is right.

In practical terms, highway capable (affodadable) electrified vehicles may be HEVs and PHEVs up to 2020 or so and equivalent BEVs by 2020+.

mahonj

The simplest way to extend the range of Ev's for the 1-5% of the time they need long range is to swap them for ICE's

(Or have an ICE as a backup car).
In the west, we have grown used to owning a car which can go 3-500 miles / tank of gas.
This is not the case in China.
If they set up "car swap" centers on orbital motorways, people could drive their EV to a swap center, swap the car, go on their trip, and swap back at the end.
It is not a technical problem, just a culture problem, and in a place like China, which has not developed a car ownership culture (for long) people could get used to car swapping (if the price was right).

For instance, an EV could come with 2 weeks free ICE per year as part of the purchase cost. (You would probably have to reserve an ICE car in advance).

If you are a travelling salesman and do a lot of mileage, get a diesel.

SJC

I think the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus EV will show people that 80-100 mile range is enough for most needs. Once a few people buy those cars and share the experience, it could catch on nicely.

HarveyD

Good possibility mahonj. How many of us would willingly share highway capable vehicles? Rentals may be another possibility for the rare long trips. Technology will solve the problem with long range BEVs by 2020/2025.

HarveyD

Competition to corner EV market shares is going to be very interesting for the next 10+ years. Many would place their bets on China, India, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, Russia etc. I think that the first two on that list may be the leaders. USA and UE could also do it if the collective will is there.

danm

There is some irony to see Japan squirming nervously. They were eating American's lunch back in the 80's but now find themselves playing catch-up.
-
China will likely win this race because they don't have preconceived notions of what a car is.
GM is trying to cater to an American public and is going to miss the boat (the world-wide market).

Zhukova

I don't know why people worry about range extenders. Charging stations are already being installed in thousands of locations. If a 100 mile range BEV can be charged to 80% in 10 minutes, you could drive an hour or more, stop and charge for ten minutes, and drive another hour. Four or five short stops is no significant inconvenience for that once a year 300 mile trip. The rest of the year you slow charge at home every night. There's a huge market for this kind of car for people who do that kind of driving. No scientific breakthrough required. If you don't like it, buy an ICE car, which you probably already have.

ToppaTom

OMG
EVs are here? REALLY

Yeee Ha.

What?

Just a single editorial in Japan?

Oh.

Never mind.

Roger Pham

In the foreseable future, there will be no substitution for HEV's to make up the bulk of automobiles, due to the limit availability of batteries and battery raw materials.

Furthermore, HEV's running on biomethane, synthetic methane, or on H2, will be just as CO2-sparing as BEV's running on renewable energy...and yet, sadly, there is still no rush toward the mass deployment of solar and wind electricity, which are still making up a very small percentage of overall electricity production. Gasifying coal or waste biomass to produce synthetic methane or H2 for HEV's may be even more clean and efficient than burning coal to generate electricity.

That said, if and when solar and wind will make up the bulk of electrical generation, swapping a 100-mile range BEV for an ICE-vehicle when longer range is needed is the most practical solution.

SJC

If is a lifestyle change without much sacrifice. People use EVs every day and for that trip out of town a few times a year they rent and put the miles on that car. We have a present structure that allows rentals, FFV/M85, PHEV, HEV and EV, we just need more widespread use of the solutions that we already have at hand.

wintermane2000

Cant forget the entire time bev fuel cell and erev will all be improving. We will likely wind up with 5-6 different kinds of car before too long as none of them have the oomph to take over even half the market.

HarveyD

W-2000. The transition may be faster than we expect. Resistance is futile. Look at what is going on in China with the very quick introduction of electrified vehicles (2 to 4 wheels). Liquid fuel vehicles are on their way out and the rate of change will not be linear. The current and next decade will be very interesting.

A progressive extra fuel tax would help (to finance all future elections and do away with lobbies), to build and better maintain roads and bridges and to convince many of us to switch to cleaner vehicles at a faster rate. Something like 2 to 5 cents per gallon per month could do it.

SJC

"the rate of change will not be linear."

Then I would like to see what that function looks like. There are lots of people making lots of predictions based on "gut feel" and little else. Predictions do not matter, results do.

ai_vin

The rate of change for innovation normally follows a "S" curve.

SJC

It depends on which part of the "S" curve we are on, right now it seems to be the "screwed" part.

HarveyD

SJC: Transition (from ICE to Electrified vehicles) growth rate may be somewhere between a Z and an S curve. We are at the very first lower slow part that may last another 5+ years. China is starting on the second or fast rising part that may last another 15++ years. The third slower flat rising rate may reached between 2030 and 2040.

Transition will certainly pick up speed by 2015 but may not reach the quickest rate before 2020. Resistance to change will weaken by 2020 and conversion will be massive.

SJC

It is easy to predict 10 years in the future because no one will go back and see if you were right. I have no crystal ball, I can only observe trends. The one thing I know is any "solution" will require wide spread adoption over time to be effective, so that is a good place to start before making projections.

Henry Gibson

Adequate range extenders can be very small and even removable as the OPOC demonstration showed; Its main use is to eliminate range anxiety not to burn fuel, but the US driver is seduced with the very high horsepower of the TESLA and its ICE counterparts when a single average horsepower or two will do for most trips around town when the battery has been run down and there is a desire to keep moving. Range extenders can eliminate any perceived need for super large expensive batteries for long range which make plug in hybrid cars too expensive. The Volt was designed, as was the EV1, to kill the electric car with a high price. That part of GM should have been sold to TATA in GMs failure. Think of a large model airplane engine when thinking of range extenders for the average car use. ..HG..

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