On the afternoon of January 16th, 2021, the China Electric Vehicle Hundred Person Forum Senior Forum on the theme of “Innovation Driven, Scientific Planning, and Comprehensive Creation of a New Development Pattern for New Energy Vehicles in the ’14th Five-Year Plan’ Period” was opened in Beijing. Wan Gang, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology, delivered a speech on the topic.
Wan Gang stated that he was glad to be able to participate in the main forum of the 2021 China Electric Vehicle Hundred Person Forum. His views could be roughly divided into four aspects:
- The first is two-wheel drive, a new stage of development for new energy vehicles;
- The second is cross-border integration, seizing new opportunities for transformation and upgrading;
- The third is forward-looking deployment, building new technological innovation momentum;
- The fourth is the new concept of achieving carbon neutrality and green development.
From the beginning of the 21st century, when the major national special projects for new energy vehicles were launched, new energy vehicles have indeed come a long way from 2001 to today’s 2020. I just received this year’s figures and, combined with the cumulative figures of previous years, I can proudly tell everyone that China’s cumulative production and sales of new energy vehicles have exceeded 5 million units, exceeding the task’s requirements.
Moreover, what is important is that during the period of epidemic prevention and control and resumption of work and production, the State Council issued the “Development Plan for the New Energy Vehicle Industry (2021-2035),” proposing a series of new plans to improve technological innovation capabilities, construct a new industry ecosystem, promote industrial integration and development, and improve infrastructure.
Looking back at this road, it was indeed not easy, but the road received significant attention from the central government and the State Council. General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed in May 2014 that the development of new energy vehicles is a must for China to move from an automobile power to an automobile power.
Even during the critical moment of fighting against the epidemic last year, when General Secretary Xi Jinping visited First Automotive Works (FAW) in July, he gave high praise to the development of new energy vehicles, the application of intelligent-connected vehicle technology, the construction of high-end brands, and the support of local governments, and put forward new requirements. From a global perspective, by November, our new energy vehicle sales had reached 1.109 million units, accounting for 5% of new car sales.
The figures for December this year have also been released. The number of new electric vehicle registrations in the European Union has also reached nearly 1.085 million units, accounting for about 10% of new car sales, with Germany and Italy exceeding 200% growth. The global cumulative sales of new energy vehicles will reach 11 million units, of which China’s sales exceeded 5.3 million units.
From January to November 2020, the sales of new energy vehicles in major countries around the world were 2.43 million units with a year-on-year growth of 34.15%. From the policy orientation of last year, although in a state of the new coronavirus pandemic, major countries still promoted the development of new energy vehicles. For example, Europe formulated a “Green Recovery Plan” and implemented green recovery policies.Countries such as France, Germany, the UK, and Italy have significantly increased both the subsidy amount and coverage for new energy vehicles while imposing stricter carbon emission regulations. This has compelled manufacturers to transition and upgrade, resulting in accelerated product launches and greatly improved production capacity.
In our country, we have announced a new round of medium to long-term plans to encourage innovative drives, industrial upgrades and policies that extend subsidies and tax exemptions. We have also implemented “double credit” transactions and increased investment in the construction of charging and hydrogen energy facilities, particularly the first batch of new infrastructure projects that utilize the resumption of work and production. We are also promoting the use of new energy vehicles in rural areas and have already seen nearly 200,000 units sold, as well as expanding demand in the high-end and mass market sectors.
It is worth mentioning that our regulatory departments have innovated methods for overseeing new energy vehicles while intensifying product consistency, reliability, and durability regulations to ensure that consumers have more confidence in their purchases.
From the perspective of our country’s development trend, we believe that new energy vehicles have entered a new stage of innovation driven by both the market and policies. From a market perspective, we saw a beautiful V-shaped growth from January to September, closely related to the government’s introduction of new policies. Since June, a continued upward trend has formed. The new energy vehicle commodity market is becoming increasingly diversified, and attention from the capital market has driven rapid growth in the industry while also promoting cross-border investment in other areas.
From the perspective of policy-driven innovation, fiscal subsidies and tax policies have been implemented. Nowadays, everyone is more concerned about “double credit,” carbon trading, and long-term tax policies. From an application environment viewpoint, we must accelerate the diversification and convenience of basic infrastructure construction. By December 2020, the number of charging stations had reached 63,600, number of battery swapping stations had reached 555, the number of public charging piles had reached 807,000, and the number of private charging piles had reached 874,000.
Therefore, I would like to say that in this new stage of development, new energy vehicle products and services, as well as strategic planning and team building of enterprises, will all be subject to dual attention from the capital and commodity markets. Hence, companies should be more cautious and seize development trends, strengthen innovation capabilities, improve product quality, and scientifically predict future demand in order to innovate market management models, particularly to avoid the risk of market fluctuations.
Cross-sector integration is a new development trend. Last year, we proposed electric power drive, intelligent network connectivity, and shared travel which will drive the transformation and upgrading of the entire industry. It will involve energy power, R&D and manufacturing of enterprises, thus, in industrial planning, we particularly proposed the construction of new industrial ecology and the promotion of integrated development.In particular, promote the integration and development of new energy vehicles, smart cities, intelligent transportation, clean energy systems, and information and communication industries; establish a new energy vehicle and smart energy, smart transportation integration innovation platform for future travel, jointly tackle basic and cross-cutting key technologies, and improve the overall ability of the automobile industry and related industries to integrate and innovate. I think there are three points in it that are worth studying.
The first is the integration and development of “vehicle, road, network, and cloud” of new energy vehicles and the information and communication industry.
Under the influence of the new round of technological revolution, intelligent network interconnection is the grip to achieve the integration of smart cities and intelligent transportation, to build a digital communication signal perception system, connect passenger flow, logistics, and information flow, and achieve interconnectivity between information, cities, and transportation charging facilities. The integration development will provide an industry integration platform for 5G, intelligent roads, smart city data, big data management, data security, and many other industries to jointly promote the transformation and upgrading of relevant industries, promote deep cross-industry integration, and form a new industrial ecosystem.
Looking from another aspect, the two-way integration of automobiles and energy is also a trend, and it is necessary to strengthen the two-way interaction of V2G between new energy vehicles and the power grid.
New energy is not only a power consumption body, but also a possible energy storage body. Realizing the high-efficiency interaction between new energy vehicles and the power grid, reducing the electricity cost of new energy vehicles, and improving the power grid’s peak shaving efficiency and safety response capability.
Promoting the efficient coordination between new energy vehicles and renewable resources, there is one thing that deserves special attention, which is the development of “light storage and charging”, that is, distributed photovoltaic power generation and energy storage system, and multifunctional integration of charging and discharging. Because we all know that the higher the voltage of DC fast charging, the greater impact it will have on the grid.
Now especially with the use of photovoltaics and valley electricity storage, secondary use of batteries to alleviate the impact of high-voltage DC charging on the grid.
The cross-border integration of automobiles and transportation, and the goal of shared travel is to improve the quality of automobile and road transportation operations and the efficiency of commuting, so that limited transportation resources can meet the growing demand for people and goods flow. Therefore, we must first accelerate the connection between new energy vehicles and intelligent transportation control systems, optimize the use environment of new energy vehicles in public services, and form an integrated smart travel service system to meet people’s hopes for safety, greenness, convenience, and comfort. At the same time, with the rapid development of the logistics system, building a green and intelligent logistics transport system and developing forms of Internet +, efficient logistics, and innovative smart logistics can also create a new service format for safe and efficient logistics transportation.
The third point I want to talk about is still to seize our innovation ability and make forward-looking deployments.
Looking at the technology trends of last year, the single-cell energy density of the power battery has reached or exceeded 300 Wh/kg, and the cost is also decreasing.Significant breakthroughs have been made in low-temperature adaptation technology for power batteries that everyone is concerned about, especially in the processes of flat and ultra-long structure layer stacking and blade batteries, as well as innovation in the integrated design of power batteries and vehicle electrification chassis, such as the CTP battery system, which greatly enhance the energy density of the system through industrial manufacturing and design improvements.
Recently, we also need to focus on the development of cathode materials from low-cobalt to cobalt-free and anode materials towards silicon, as well as the development of various functional electrolytes and membranes, and the dramatic improvement in battery quality through positive and negative electrode dry-mixing processes.
From the perspective of the battery system, using intelligent technology to optimize thermal management systems is mainly to solve the safety risks of winter preheating and warming, low temperature problems, and cooling and heat dissipation after charging and full charging.
From a medium to long-term perspective, we need to continue to promote big data security warning technology for the prevention and control of thermal runaway and thermal diffusion, improve the safety of the battery system, and strengthen positive and negative electrode materials and solid electrolytes, especially in solid-state batteries. We need to solve the interface and conductivity problems between positive and negative electrodes and the electrolyte to achieve sustained and far-reaching original innovation in the systematic advancement of solid-state batteries.
Our electric drive technology has also made significant progress, as seen in the small exhibition at the entrance. Firstly, electric drive technology is developing towards high efficiency, high speed, high density, low vibration, and low cost, and major motor companies have developed three-in-one electric drive and assembly systems. In addition, the industrial chain of high-efficiency and high-power IGBT functional chips and motor control, as well as the breakthroughs in silicon carbide devices and controllers, have also been made.
We need to continue to complete the key processes of IGBT chip and chip module life certification, truly improve the industrial chain and supply chain. At the same time, as the voltage of electric vehicles increases, we need to strengthen the development of key technologies such as high-speed and high-precision gears, low-friction bearings, and encoder-wire manufacturing. For example, many foreign countries currently use motors with speeds of over 16,000 rpm, which we are still a little short of achieving.
From the perspective of medium to long-term development trends, we need to deploy and implement on a long-cycle basis. The Ministry of Science and Technology has already deployed third-generation wide-bandgap semiconductor devices since the “13th Five-Year Plan.” At the same time, we need to study the development and manufacturing of epilayer materials, chip design, chip manufacturing, and module packaging to build a dual-cycle industrial chain at home and abroad. Meanwhile, although we are a country with great demand, we need to focus on the research and development and manufacturing of high-magnetic materials such as low-heavy rare earth and no rare earth permanent magnets and nanocrystalline non-crystalline materials. We need to systematically arrange the design of the drivetrain system and the research and development of software to construct a hierarchical, modular, and platform-based design software system.In the field of electronic control, we believe that intelligent control urgently needs to restructure a new architecture for electronic and electrical systems. The traditional automotive electronic system was formed during gradual development in the past 30 years and it is now difficult to meet the demands of future intelligent connected vehicles, electric power drive, and shared mobility. To achieve the intelligent control of new energy vehicles, we need to plan the system and construct a new generation of electronic and electrical architecture with a centralized overall structure that meets the high computing power, large data volume, and software update needs of intelligent connected vehicles.
A friend once told me that they wanted to compare a cellphone and an electric car. Both are said to be the future, but while a cellphone can download new apps every day to continuously expand its range, can future cars achieve the same thing and provide us with an increasing sense of satisfaction? Although this is a question from outside the industry, I think it is worth taking seriously and researching thoroughly.
In 2015, we proposed that the development of new energy vehicles in our country cannot do without the lightweight design of automobiles. In recent years, we have seen the widespread use of high-strength steel and the application of high-performance aluminum alloys that has already begun. The market has seen the launch of high-vacuum die-cast shock absorber mounts and all-aluminum bodies. We are also pleased to see the widespread use of advanced composite materials such as carbon fiber. The application of carbon fiber composite materials is becoming more and more extensive, and the steel-aluminum car body is also an important breakthrough for future lightweight development.
Finally, I would like to talk about my views on how to implement the new concept of green development with regards to carbon peaking and carbon neutrality.
On September 22, 2020, President Xi Jinping announced at the 75th United Nations General Assembly that China will increase its efforts to independently contribute to reduce carbon emissions. China aims to achieve peak carbon emissions before 2030 and become carbon neutral before 2060 by adopting more effective policies and measures. The report of the Central Economic Work Conference clearly stated that the work of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality is one of the key tasks this year. It requires us to step up the development of an action plan to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and support places with conditions to take the lead in achieving this goal.
Therefore, many friends in the automotive industry propose that the automobile industry, as a conditional industry, can take the lead. It is widely recognized that we need to build an innovative system for low-carbon development, optimize the system of carbon emissions in the automotive industry, and improve the trading system by increasing policy support related to finance and fiscal matters. This will help create a market environment that is conducive to the structural capacity of the automotive industry. Finally, by deepening institutional reforms, we can strive to achieve the goals of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality for the automotive industry on schedule.
Here, I would like to particularly emphasize my ideas on developing new energy, promoting the development of the hydrogen and fuel cell industries.From an energy perspective, achieving carbon neutrality and peak carbon emissions may involve further developing renewable sources such as hydropower, wind power, photovoltaic power, and biomass applications. However, as the carriers of new energy, electricity and hydrogen have features of diversified sources, high efficiency, zero emissions, and mutual conversion. Fuel cell vehicles can be widely used in transportation, architecture, industry, and more efficient energy storage fields. For example, our country’s first fuel cell-powered light rail has already been implemented in Foshan, Guangdong province; fuel cell applications are also being studied in underwater transportation; there are also applications of hydrogen energy, fuel cells, and photovoltaics in unmanned aerial vehicles; and there are already many industrial and architectural applications.
I would like to emphasize that hydrogen energy and electricity can be converted into each other, meaning that energy can be stored during demand lows and supplied during peak periods. Fuel cell energy storage and generation systems, as well as pumped storage hydropower systems, complement each other, especially for establishing energy storage and generation during peak demand periods. This is a very promising direction for development.
I am glad that last year, “The People’s Republic of China Energy Law (Draft for Comment)” specifically proposed that hydrogen energy be included in the national energy strategic system, clarifying the position of hydrogen energy in the energy system. As far as I know, relevant authorities are also formulating medium- and long-term strategic plans for the development of the national hydrogen energy industry, and a new round of fuel cell demonstrations is also underway.
When I conducted research on the Science and Technology Winter Olympics last year, I also gained good inspiration. State Grid Corporation of China developed the world’s first direct current grid, which has the ability to absorb large-scale renewable resources and stably deliver power, ensuring green power for the 2022 Winter Olympics venues.
At the same time, Zhangjiakou has also established an industry-school-research-application research institute, building an industrial chain for renewable resource hydrogen production plants and fuel cell systems for vehicle power. Currently, there are 254 fuel cell vehicles demonstrating in the city, and it is expected that there will be 3000 fuel cell vehicles to ensure operation for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The most precious aspect here is the exploration of a commercial, operational system from solar energy to hydrogen production.
For many years, we have built many fuel cell vehicle demonstration cities across the country. Currently, the cumulative number of operating vehicles exceeds 5000, and the cumulative operating mileage exceeds 100 million kilometers. The number of hydrogen refueling stations established or under construction exceeds 140.
In the automotive field, according to research materials from relevant authorities, heavy-duty commercial vehicles account for a small proportion of China’s vehicle ownership, around 5%, but particulate matter emissions account for 68%, with nitrogen oxide emissions even exceeding 90%.
Looking at the proportion of consumed refined oil, carbon dioxide emissions account for approximately 50%. Therefore, promoting the application of hydrogen fuel cells in commercial vehicles is of great significance for achieving peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality, and fuel cells are also suitable for long-distance and heavy-load transportation.Therefore, this year, the Ministry of Finance and four other departments jointly launched a new round of demonstration and application of fuel cell vehicles. Building on the previous city-based demonstrations, this new round further strengthens the regional collaboration, driving the construction of cross-city hydrogen production, storage, and refueling systems, enabling long-distance application of fuel cells across cities, and forming a distinctive, collaborative and breakthrough application demonstration system. I also hope to explore a complete set of experience for the future city-to-city application of fuel cell vehicles in this demonstration. This is somewhat similar to our promotion of “Ten Cities, Thousand Vehicles” electric cars ten years ago.
At that time, the emphasis was on solving urban transportation problems, while today, we need to solve cross-city transportation issues, which account for almost half of our current automobile emissions. At the same time, I hope to use this opportunity to incorporate the diversified application of hydrogen energy into this process. It should be said that hydrogen energy vehicles have not gone as far as electric vehicles yet, but they still have a very promising and attractive development prospect.
Comrades, the next five years will be an acceleration period of global technological revolution and industrial transformation. In the new pattern of constructing a dual-cycle development pattern at home and abroad, it will also be a critical period for achieving full marketization of new energy vehicles.
To seize new opportunities in the development of new energy vehicles, implement new concepts of green development, grasp new opportunities for industrial transformation, and enhance new momentum for technological innovation, it requires us to scientifically plan, take proactive actions, and work together to construct a new pattern of new energy vehicle development during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, striving to achieve the goal of peaking carbon dioxide emissions and achieving carbon neutrality as scheduled, and making new contributions to promoting global green and sustainable development.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email email@example.com.