Barack Obama and Hu Jintao Announce US-China Electric Vehicles Initiative
Photos: Public domain
Good Intentions, But Let's Wait for Real-World Results
The Chinese government and many Chinese businesses have been making pretty big bets on electric cars in the past few years. In fact, the richest man in China, Wang Chuanfu (in Chinese: çŽ‹ä¼ ç¦), owes much of his fortune (at least on paper) to investments in electric cars and their batteries. So it isn't surprising that electric cars were on the agenda during the meeting between Barack Obama and Hu Jintao; what came out of it is the US-China "Electric Vehicles Initiative".According to the U.S. Department of Energy (pdf), the initiative will include:
Joint standards development. The two countries will explore development of joint product and testing standards for electric vehicles. This will include common design standards for plugs to be used in electric vehicles, as well as common test protocols for batteries and other devices. Each country currently has extensive literature and data on its own standards. Making this information mutually available and working towards common standards can help facilitate rapid deployment of electric vehicles in both countries.
Joint demonstrations. The Initiative will link more than a dozen cities with electric vehicle demonstration programs in both countries. Paired cities will collect and share data on charging patterns, driving experiences, grid integration, consumer preferences and other topics. The demonstrations will help facilitate large-scale introduction of this technology.
Joint technical roadmap. A US-China task force will create a multi-year roadmap to identify R&D needs as well as issues related to the manufacture, introduction and use of electric vehicles. The roadmap will be made widely available to assist not just US and Chinese developers, but also the global automotive industry. It will be updated regularly to reflect advances in technology and the evolution of the marketplace.
Public awareness and engagement. The United States and China will develop and disseminate materials to improve public understanding of electric vehicle technologies. Building on the success of the first-even US-China Electric Vehicles Forum in September 2009, the United States and China will sponsor the event annually, alternating between the two countries. The Forum will bring together key stakeholders in both countries to share information on best practices and identify new areas for collaboration.
Show Some Vision, Guys!
Cooperation is certainly a good sign, and as the two biggest car markets in the world, China and the US will together shape the future of electric transportation more than most countries (only Europe taken as a whole is on the same level).
But this initiative isn't very ambitious (so far - let's hope it gets expanded). This won't stop private companies from forging ahead on their own, but it would certainly be good if governments had bigger goals. They've helped traditional automobiles get to where they are today (which is partly responsible for the decline of rail), so it would only be fair to give a push to electric cars during the initial development phases.
Via U.S. Department of Energy, Green Car Congress
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