Developing electric mobility in China is strongly pushed by the central government. The incentive and potential is high, though maturity of various market segments is still lacking. NOST China discussed opportunities with professor C.C. Chan from the University of Hong Kong, who strongly suggested an active participation of relevant Dutch organizations in China.
On August 28, the Netherlands Office for Science and Technology organized a meeting with technology stakeholders in the electric vehicle (EV) sector in China. The meeting was hosted by the S&T counselor mr. Taake Manning, who had invited Professor C.C. Chan for an open-ended discussion on the development of this sector in China.
Professor Chan, a reputable professor with honorary chairs and academic positions from Hong Kong to Harvard, founder of the International Research Centre for Electric vehicles, counselor of the Chinese, Israeli and German governments on the topic of electric mobility, has become a global authority on the development and implementation of this industry. His home base is the University of Hong Kong.
Just returned from a business trip to London as a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, prof. Chan, almost 80 years old, vividly elaborated on the developments and pitfalls of the electric new energy vehicle in China.
China, according to prof. Chan, will become the kingdom of electric vehicles. Why? The lack of natural energy resources and the pressure on the environment are natural reasons for developing a more energy-efficient, electricity-based automotive market. Simultaneously, whereas the sales of traditional (non-hybrid/plugin or EV) cars witnessed yearly exponential growth in recent years, growth has become linear recently and is expected to flatten within the coming years. Important as well is the fact that, as is the case in most developed countries, EV-related technology is reaching mature levels.
The pitfalls are, however, still plentiful. The EV market is pushed by governmental incentive, but demand is lacking, due to a naïve market and immature infrastructure (such as limited numbers of charging stations, an outdated power grid and reluctance among potential suppliers and consumers). An influential cluster of academic and industry leaders exists (the so-called EV100 committee), but this governmentally pushed, top-down approach reduces its efficiency: prestige and reputation may sometimes be deceptive. The core mismatch to be solved is the fact of a lacking industrial focus, a consolidated product and a good infrastructure, in short, a good business model. Customers still want big cars and do not focus on intelligent connectivity systems, while, according to professor Chan, connectivity will create value of the new energy and boost further innovations within the “Internet of Things” domain.
Professor Chan was accompanied by professor Fang and associate professor Zhou (Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry). They discussed advances in the development of composite for automotive, aerospace and maritime sectors, and the challenges ahead to implement these innovative materials in the respective OEMs; and professor Wang (Shanghai Advanced Research Institute), who collaborates with professor Chan on EV mobility in China.
Professor Chan is well involved in the Dutch automotive sector as well, as he collaborated with TNO in Eindhoven. He welcomes the involvement of the Dutch sector in China, especially when applied to battery systems, motor control systems and body design, as well as commercial companies that specialize in dedicated technologies.
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