back to article China remains in pole position for electric vehicle uptake despite cuts to subsidies

Electric cars are failing to take the world by storm, although sales remain strong in China even though its government subsidies for driving a 'leccy were recently reduced. Figures from Canalys suggest this is down to a variety of other carrots and sticks offered by cities across China to urge people and companies away from …

  1. Chris Miller

    "New electric" includes battery-only and plug-in hybrid, but not 'plain vanilla' hybrid. Otherwise the numbers would be substantially inflated, since almost every Toyota/Lexus is some type of hybrid, these days.

  2. michaelvirks

    The fact that buying electric allows you to circumvent China's mental "enter a lottery for a numberplace, chance of 1 in 3 every year, if you win, hand over ~£10K equivalent for the privilege of being allowed to buy a new car" model plays a much bigger role in the increased uptake than the subsidies. If you can afford to buy a new car in China, subsidies are not top of mind.

  3. BGatez Bronze badge

    China, very wisely, has looked at smog choked cities and 10 lane highways with 3 day traffic jams and made it much harder to get a car license. On the other hand electric bicycles, scooters and even three wheeled vehicles are EVERYWHERE and used by all ages and sexes for just about everything, from commuting, to taking the kids to and from school, to shopping and errands.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      That's because they are a bunch of ignorant communists.

      The free market capitalist solution is for the government to build lots more roads, the car companies to build bigger more expensive SUVs and then the government to bail them out when oil price rises impact their sales

      1. Ochib

        And to lie about the emisions

  4. AIBailey Silver badge

    ...there are now more public electric charging stations than there are petrol stations in the UK – 9,531 compared to 8,394, albeit that filling up with fuel is still quicker than charging your battery.

    Don't forget though that a petrol station would usually have at least 2 pumps (for an ancient middle-of-nowhere station), rising to well over 20 pumps for a large motorway service station. Any car filling up should be in and out within 5 minutes. Therefore a motorway service station could (in theory) cope with 1200 vehicles per hour, granting each vehicle between 400-700 miles of additional range.

    A charging station may consist of a single point, rising to perhaps half a dozen*. Each car would need to be at that station for at least 15-20 minutes to gain any meaningful range, potentially only enough to get it to the next charging point on the journey. Assuming, of course that the charging point has the correct connector for your car.

    As the article says, filling up with fuel is quicker than charging (if we're talking full-range, it's quicker by a factor of at least 40), and that range will be significantly greater for non EV's. Plus the nozzle on a fuel pump is designed to fit all appropriate cars.

    It sounds like China have the right idea, pushing technologies like hydrogen fuel cells - that brings the convenience and speed of filling a "traditional" car, with the advantages of an electric vehicle. The downside (if it could be considered so) is that the infrastructure to provide the fuel needs to resemble the traditional petrol station model, rather than people being able to charge at home or work.

    * - Purely a finger-in-the-air guess though, I've not done any research, other than what I've witnessed when out and about.

    1. Schultz
      Boffin

      Let's remember that electric / hybrid cars only make sense ...

      if we manage to get more electricity of fuel for fuel cells from renewables. Even with the German energy mix (>50% renewables and nuclear power), electric cars barely beat old-fashioned fuel-drive cars in CO2 emissions (cf. https://www.gdch.de/fileadmin/downloads/Service_und_Informationen/Downloads/Fachbroschueren/2019_Sonderdruck_NCh_Klimaschutz.pdf). It is nice that humanity tries to reduce CO2 emissions, but so far we haven't been particularly smart about it.

      Most people are happy to spend money for the feel-good factor (Greta sailing to the USA, a British prince "offsetting" his private jet emissions, the ordinary citizen buying an electric car, filling your car with "bio-fuel" so the farmers create the emissions instead, ...). But eventually we have to find solutions that make a real difference!

      And no, paying some money to "offset" your profligate lifestyle won't work because Bolsonaro burns down the rainforest faster than your donation can plant a tree.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Unfortunately we are still in a situation where manufacturers charge more for the electric version of their cars than the petrol or diesel models. So this hardly encourages people to switch when buying a new car.

    And for those (myself included) who cannot afford to buy a new car, we have to wait to see how well EVs perform as used cars once they become 5+ years old and the batteries start to wear out.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Boffin

      5 year old EV

      I have a 5 year old EV, with 85,000 miles on the clock. Range is pretty much as it was when new.

      Yeah, it's just one data point. But it's 100% of the data points I care about.

      GJC

  6. IGotOut

    Common Sense by the Chinese.

    Finally, ploughing money into Hydrogen. At least they realise its going to be impossible to install charging points where they are actually needed. Think high rise buildings, victorian terraces or places with limted parking.

    Apart from a few demonstrators, this is an area woefully under funded.

    1. dharmOS

      Re: Common Sense by the Chinese.

      Methanol has more grams of hydrogen per litre than even liquid hydrogen (100g per litre compared with 71g/l according to www.methanol.org). It is more stable at room temperature and easily handled in current fuel pumping and storing teach. So direct methanol fuel cells would be a more promising R&D approach than H2 fuel cells that need massive pressures to compress or cryogenic tanks. H2 also slowly leaks out of metals with embrittlement etc.

      Might explain why the the only H2 fuel cell cars such as the Mirai are leased rather than owned.

      1. Danny Boyd

        Re: Common Sense by the Chinese.

        Don't forget to mention that methanol is highly poisonous in liquid or gaseous form.

        1. dharmOS

          Re: Common Sense by the Chinese.

          Liquid or compressed hydrogen is extremely explosive...

          1. Danny Boyd

            Re: Common Sense by the Chinese.

            It is not until it's mixed with oxygen. And leaking hydrogen, being lighter than air, moves up and away.

          2. jgarbo

            Re: Common Sense by the Chinese.

            No at all.Old wives' tale. Pure H2 is inert. The "Hindenberg Syndrome" was Al203 paint ignited by a lightning strike, which then ignited escaping H2.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Common Sense by the Chinese.

          "Don't forget to mention that methanol is highly poisonous in liquid or gaseous form."

          As I understand it, petrol (gasoline) is also toxic, so that may not be as big of a barrier to it's uptake as the problem of getting enough methanol in the first place without causing starvation somewhere in the world because of moving food production into biofuel crops....

          1. Danny Boyd

            Re: Common Sense by the Chinese.

            Petrol is definitely not a good thing to swallow or inhale, but if you do that by accident, you get nothing more than some unpleasant taste. Swallowing methanol or inhaling its vapors will at least make you blind and a significant exposure will kill you. Appreciate the difference.

            That's why they add ethanol, not methanol, to the petrol these days (and Brazilians are happily running their cars on pure ethanol).

          2. jgarbo

            Re: Common Sense by the Chinese.

            Methanol has about 45% energy value of gasoline,ie fewer mpg, plus it's hygroscopic - rusts ferrous metals and accumulates water in tank and fuel lines. Not nice.

  7. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    China manufactures most of everything, yet there are no strong Chinese car brands. But that's going to change fairly shortly I think, as they're (very sensibly) skipping the old technology and going straight for the new.

    My prediction is in 20 years, Chinese fully electric car brands will be everywhere, well-known to consumers and beating companies like Tesla and Nissan in terms of sales.

    1. IGotOut

      "yet there are no strong Chinese car brands"

      Unless you include Volvo, MG, LDV (OK vans & trucks) and a majority share of Lotus

  8. A-nonCoward
    Boffin

    So, what's new about this?

    Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, one of the poorest countries, with a most corrupt, backwards and asinine governments on Earth despite some hard competition coming from Africa, runs most of its public transportation on electric tricycles and has been doing so for years. Those vehicles carry 7 passengers (or 9? not sure any more).

    I guess it helps that the power grid is so unreliable that anybody able to afford it has a bank of batteries at home, thus know how and technology and hacks are all well known by tens of thousands of "engineers" that get paid with some leftovers for their services.

    I have found the Nepalese I have met to be resilient, courageous, intelligent, and willing to put the work, but then, I guess that such nice people get the government and rulers they have just to compensate, alas.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019