Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lithium Drive: Chinese taxi drivers test new green machines TNR.v, BYDDY, CZX.v, RM.v, LMR.v, Li.v, WLC.v, CLQ.v, RTP, FCX, GDX, SLV, BHP, FCX, GOOG,

"We were running on Oil for the last 100 years - what will be the next Energy basis for our survival? If we account all expenses for Oil and military protection of its supply Oil price is already well above 100 USD/barrel. Now BP Oil Spill national disaster will add billions to this price. Will Obama use this chance and move his Energy Security Agenda forward now, when time is running out with every barrel of Oil burnt in our engines? We are talking not only about our life styles and poor birds dying in the Gulf: we are talking about West as a society based on Oil addiction. It is not sustainable any more. There is no Cheap Oil any more left:"

China has put Electric Mobility at the foundation of its economic plan of development as a key technology to Energy Security and mass mobility for its population. The only way to continue its low cost production base advantage is to reduce the transportation cost. Wages are on the rise in China now and the next field of competition will in the transportation space: with Oil price rising sky high world will be shrinking back from its globalisation stage frighteningly fast. Domestic demand is still on the rise and China knows that they can not afford to lose Export Markets. Economics of Electric Cars becomes the crucial competitive advantage in a world wide competitive landscape.

"Race for Strategic Materials is on and U.S. is not in the front seats now: China controls 97% of REE market and lithium mostly produced in Chile, Argentina and Australia at the moment. Bolivia - named the Saudi Arabia of lithium by some, has its own mind about its vast undeveloped resources of lithium. Japanese companies are buying into Canadian and Australian junior mining companies to secure lithium supply and Chinese are very active in Australia. When U.S. will look at domestic lithium development in Nevada? Government sponsored enterprise in U.S. Strategic Metals Development Corp. like a Japanese JOGMEC can do the trick and finance juniors like International Lithium, Western Lithium and Rodinia Minerals on J/V basis: otherwise it will be 80s with Japanese Fever all over again. This time Japanese conglomerates will control not only movie studious, but something little bit more essential in the time of peak oil - lithium supply for the Electric Mobility Revolution. Recent deal in Nevada by JOGMEC with Lomico Metals is the first step in that direction, properties are still under DD review, but appetite to be engage in lithium exploration and development in Nevada by Japanese is there. Who will be gone next? When GM, Ford, GE, Dow, Rio Tinto, Boeing and DOE will wake up?"


By Aileen McCabe, Canwest News Asia Correspondent, Canwest News Service June 13, 2010

Taxis drivers have to book an appointment to charge up their purely electric e6 cars. Even though there are only three charging stations in the city so far, it's not a problem because only 30 e-cabs are on the road. But BYD hopes to have 100 on the streets by the end of June and 1,500 in business in the not too distant future.

Photograph by: Steven Curtin, Canwest News ServiceSHENZHEN, China — In a bid to get a fully electric car on the road with appeal beyond the "green market," China’s BYD, Build Your Dreams, has taken one big step ahead of most of its competitors.

In May, the small automotive company, which U.S. financial wizard Warren Buffett put on the map when he bought a 10 per cent stake, watched the first 30 of its e6 purely electric models roll onto the streets of Shenzhen and begin cruising the city as taxis. By the end of June, BYD expects to have 100 e6 taxis on the road and, although the company won’t confirm it yet, some sources say 560 by the end of the year. The ultimate goal is 1,500, about 10 per cent of all Shenzhen cabs.

There are not enough e6s now to claim they are an instant hit in this industrial boomtown neighbouring Hong Kong, but they are attracting attention.

The red and white taxis have "zero emission" printed on them and emblazoned across the back in Chinese characters is the boast: "This is not a conventional car, this is a declaration of environmental protection."

When you drive in one, motorists and pedestrians actually point and stare.

A workhorse taxi, electric?

It’s interesting to note the reactions because the taxi driver appears totally indifferent to the experiment he’s involved in.

"A car is a car," he said. "For a taxi driver it’s to make money. If passengers like it better, then we do, too."

Paul Lin, spokesman for BYD bridles slightly when asked about the e6 experiment.

"It’s not a test program, frankly speaking. It’s a real business. It’s a beginning," he said.

Lin explains that in China, where there are more than a million taxis on the streets and they are all owned or controlled by some level of government, it makes a lot of sense to begin e-car sales by penetrating the taxis market. So, BYD invested in Pengcheng

Electric Taxi Company with Shenzhen Bus Group, a company that is ultimately controlled by the city government.

"It should give confidence and guide the public," Lin said. "If the government uses purely electric vehicles, it will be a very big sign for the public. ‘Oh, the electric vehicle, it works!’ It spells it out for the public."

What Lin doesn’t say, but clearly implies, is that it is also a way to get governments to begin investing in e-car charging stations before, likely well before, they wholeheartedly commit to policies promoting purely electric cars.

The e6 taxis are roomy, comfortable and look like a lot of other sedans on the road. They drive like any other car, too, the taxi company manager claims.

"There’s nothing for a driver to get used to, they’re just new cars," he said.

A big difference, of course, is they are silent. Once you can convince the taxi driver to turn off his radio, you can literally "hear" the silence.

Since e-cars began going mainstream, designers have gone to great lengths to make them look, feel and handle like gasoline-powered cars. For example, a big front end to house the motor isn’t really necessary in an e-car, but it is there anyway. It’s been an industry-wide marketing decision not to scare away customers by designing an e-car that looks or feels "too different."

Lin compares it to the first digital cameras that came on the market looking just like the single-lens reflex cameras they would soon replace. They didn’t need to and some are changing their designs now, but at the time customers found it reassuring to hear a shutter click when they took a picture.

But for all the trouble taken to emphasize the similarities, Lin admits there is still a steep learning curve for anyone switching from gas-powered to a purely e-car. He likens it to the earliest days of automobiles when people went from horse and wagon to cars.

"The habit is different," he said. "For public use (taxis) of course, everyday you have to schedule your trips. ’I’ll go here, go there and go there and then I’ll charge my car at this place.’ So you will schedule your whole day."

Lin pointed out that drivers will be forced to make tough decisions, particularly about using air conditioning, even in Shenzhen’s steamy summer heat. It drains electricity. Keeping the AC on half-throttle is built into the e6 specifications, but running it at full tilt will send drivers to charging stations ever faster.

By contrast, heating is only a minor problem. Engines naturally generate heat, so keeping the car warm drains much less electricity.

The e6 taxis have a range of 300 kilometres on a full charge.

A full charge takes one hour at a fast charging outlet, two hours at a medium outlet and four hours at low-voltage stations. So far there are only three charging stations for the e6 in Shenzhen, each with up to half a dozen individual chargers, but plans are underway for many, many more.

The Shenzhen government has announced an ambitious plan to have 12,750 up and running by 2012, for use by public buses and government cars, as well as private cars.

The e6 runs on BYD’s lithium-ion Fe battery. It is one of the company’s core technologies and it is what convinced Buffet to back the small Chinese manufacturer.

The e6 taxis go 140 km/h and have 0-100 kilometres acceleration in 9.2 seconds.

This is the car that BYD is planning to launch in the United States later this year. It will sell for just over $40,000 US. A launch in Canada will eventually follow, Lin said, "but not yet."

Given the pollutions levels in almost all of China’s largest cities are at chocking level, BYD is understandably interested in developing a substantial e-car market at home. And it may happen, but it will likely take huge government subsidies to get it off the ground. Not only is a $40,000 car out of the reach of most Chinese consumers, the problem of building charging stations has yet to be addressed on a national level.

In 2009, the central government designated five cities, including Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, as the test ground for using clean-energy vehicles for public transportation and city trucks and cars, and earlier this month it added seven more urban centres to that list.

This "official" push is expected to speed up the proliferation of charging stations and, in turn, make private ownership of e-cars viable.

To hurry that day, Beijing announced this week subsidies of up to $8,784 US to hybrid and e-car makers.

The move should begin to bring prices down, but in a country where the per-capita income in a comparatively rich city like Shanghai was only about $6,700 US in 2009, the e6 remains a green dream for most people."
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