China is the largest car market in the world, but the Chinese automotive industry is far from strong. Few Chinese people want to buy a local brand car if they can afford a foreign branded one.
It is unlikely that Chinese local cars powered by inner combustion engines can catch up with European, American or Japanese cars, so the government thinks a new area is more hopeful for Chinese car manufacturers, which is called new energy cars, including pure electric, hybrid and fuel cell cars. Maybe there is only a small chance that Chinese automakers can pip foreign ones to the new energy car, but China is sparing no efforts in the development of green cars.
Oddly, hybrid cars are seemingly ignored by the policymakers. A private buyer of a pure electric car can obtain up to 60,000 RMB subsidies from the central government â€“ this does not count extra subsidies from some local governments. But a hybrid buyer can get just 3,000 RMB subsidies, only if the displacement is less than 1.6 liters â€“ just like other fuel efficient small cars.
Can the policymakers understand that hybrid car is a more practical choice considering its independence from charging stations layout and battery technology breakthrough? Of course, they can. But Chinese-developed hybrid cars always consume more fuel than conventional cars. Even Buick LaCrosse Hybrid, a car developed by GMâ€™s technical center in China, cannot save fuel in city driving conditions, let alone other hybrid cars of local brands.
To some extent, the hybrid car is not an electric car, because battery is not a key problem for it. The hybrid car is a technological pinnacle of the conventional car, since most hybrid systems include an efficient inner combustion engine and a complicated gearbox for not only shifting gears but also electromechanical coupling. Most Chinese car makers can develop neither engine controller nor automatic transmission. How can they develop an acceptable hybrid system?
Because the fuel consumption of conventional car and hybrid car can be compared very directly, a poor hybrid system without fuel saving can hardly be accepted by any officials and consumers, which means if Chinese automotive industry want to focus on hybrid cars, the start will be extremely difficult.
Pure electric carsâ€™ consumption, in contrast, can hardly be compared with conventional cars directly. Moreover, although nobody can build an electric car with 500km range and 5min charging time, the threshold of the industry is much lower than conventional carâ€™s. That is why Chinese automotive industry prefers pure electric than hybrid â€“ it masks the poor foundation of car industry, and takes on a sense of prosperity temporarily.
Does Chinese pure electric car own many technical advantages? â€œWe are following up foreign technology,â€ said Wen Jiabao, Chinaâ€™s Prime Minister this month.