China's Electric Vehicle Market and Engineering Innovations: Insights from the 2023 Electric Vehicle Forum in Beijing

Hosted by the China Electric Vehicle 100 People’s Association and co-sponsored by Tsinghua University, China Society of Automotive Engineering, China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China Automotive Technology Research Center, and China Automotive Engineering Research Institute; the China Electric Vehicle 100 People’s Association Forum (2023) opened in Beijing.

The forum invited representatives from government departments and industry organizations in fields such as automotive, energy, transportation, urban, and communications sector, to engage in in-depth discussions on various topics such as the global automotive industry development landscape, high-quality development paths for new energy vehicles, China’s smart-connected vehicle development strategy, trends in the core industry chain and supply chain for power batteries, trends in the transformation of the next-generation automotive consumption, automotive and energy co-development strategies, new energy transportation security system, commercial vehicle transformation direction, innovation paths for the automotive aftermarket, and digital and smart manufacturing models for the automotive industry.

At this morning’s “International Forum,” Honorary Professor of the University of Hong Kong and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chen Qingquan delivered a speech. Below are the key points of the speech:

  1. China’s electric vehicle market is experiencing rapid growth and has entered the third generation of battery technology, characterized by cobalt-free, lithium-saving, low-nickel, and high-manganese, aiming to reduce costs and improve safety.

  2. Engineering technology plays an engine role in the advancement of human civilization. Science and technology are the primary productive forces, and engineering technology is the most important of these. Achieving the development of electric vehicles is inseparable from innovation and practice driven by scientific leadership.

  3. The scientific spirit includes questioning, independent thinking, logical reasoning, deductive calculation, and experimental validation. By promoting the scientific spirit, engineering technical capabilities can be continuously enhanced.

  4. Engineering philosophy emphasizes system integration optimization, goal orientation, and team spirit, among others. The Chinese Academy of Engineering has proposed a double carbon strategy to meet the challenges of future low-carbon development. The carbon neutrality target for developed countries is by 2050, while China’s target is 2060.

  5. The energy revolution focuses on sustainability, affordability, and reliability. Solutions include low-carbonization, intelligence, and the electrification and hydrogenation of end-use energy.

  6. The essence of the transportation revolution includes electrification, intelligence, connectedness, and sharing.

  7. The four networks comprise agricultural, information, transportation, and cultural networks; the four flows refer to energy flow, information flow, value flow, and material flow. The integration of these four networks and four flows can generate greater economic and environmental benefits.

Here is the original text of the speech:

Respected Chairman Chen Qingtai, respected Minister Li Yizhong, leaders, experts, and friends, I am delighted to be here today at the China Electric Vehicle 100 People’s Association Forum. I have participated in the forum since its inception, witnessing its continuous growth and increasing influence both domestically and internationally. Today, I would like to discuss how engineering technology innovation can play a more significant role and talk about the automotive revolution and the integration of the four networks and four flows I advocate. The “four networks” here refer to the agriculture, information, transportation, and cultural networks, which involve both economic-technical aspects and superstructure; the “four flows” here point to energy flow, information flow, value flow, and material flow, capable of generating larger economic and environmental benefits.Starting today, I will discuss engineering technology and the scientific spirit, followed by the energy revolution, transportation revolution, and the integration of the four networks and four streams.

Engineering technology plays a vital role in human civilization’s progress, as scientific and technological advances are the primary productive force. Among these, engineering technology is the most crucial. Scientific discoveries lead the way in understanding the world, and the mission of engineering technology is to transform these scientific leads into the driving force of changing the world, as evident in electric vehicle development.

So, what is science? Science is discovery; science is truth; and the mission of scientists is to uncover the laws of nature for everyone’s benefit. Science aims to answer “why.” Engineering combines science, technology, and management to solve practical problems, answering “how” to do things. In essence, it contrasts with the “why” and “how” of technology and craftsmanship.

While science is truth, what is the scientific spirit? It is defined by two aspects: the spirit of inquiry or the freedom of inquiry, and independent thinking. Three methods of science include logical reasoning, deductive calculation, and experimental verification. Science is borderless, and we have many scientist friends from around the world. Science knows no boundaries, but scientists have a homeland, and science is endless, so I have no retirement age.

We advocate engineering philosophy, which is a systemic integration and optimization, requiring holistic thinking. The “Book of Changes” contains half black and half white, with black transforming into white and vice versa. Engineering projects call for collaboration between industry, academia, and research institutes. Engineering must have clear goals, which is different from scientific pursuits often driven by curiosity. So, we must have goals, methodologies, and ideas. I have summarized six points: having clear goals, holistic thinking, closed-loop/circular thinking, understanding cause-and-effect relationships and correlation, creative thinking, and adhering to disciplinary processes, including dividing and conquering or combining and attacking.

The first point is having goals, the next three points are related to ideas, and the last two points are about execution, motivation, and considering human factors to foster team spirit. The dual carbon goals—carbon peaking and carbon neutrality—are directed by the Paris Agreement, which outlines a low-carbon future. Many developed countries, such as in Europe, the United States, and Japan, have already reached carbon peaking. Their goal is carbon neutrality by 2050. China, a developing country, aims for carbon peaking by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.The Chinese Academy of Engineering has put forward eight strategies for dual-carbon, including energy conservation strategy, energy security strategy, non-fossil fuel substitution strategy, re-electrification strategy, resource recycling strategy, decarbonization strategy, digitalization strategy, and international cooperation strategy.

The essence of the energy revolution is sustainability, affordability, and reliability. Thus, our solution is the decarbonization, intelligentization, and electrification and hydrogenation of end-use energy. This is typical as we aim to build an energy-centric power system that is safe, efficient, clean, and low-carbon. The core is multi-energy complementation, with coordination between sources, grid, load, and storage playing a very important role. Through coordination, we can achieve flexibility and intelligence, which can solve the supply-demand balance caused by random fluctuations.

Incorporating new energy sources into traditional power generation presents challenges due to their random fluctuations, which necessitates energy storage. Similarly, on the power transmission and transformation side, we have distributed energy and electric vehicles, so coordination is also needed in power distribution. Through this coordination, we can achieve multi-energy complementation, flexible intelligence, and an open, interactive, clean, low-carbon, safe, reliable, integrated, and user-friendly power system – with new energy as the main component.

The essence of the transportation revolution is electrification, intelligentization, network connectivity, and shared mobility.

We must recognize that our work today will have profound implications for humanity. From intelligent vehicles to connected cars, from connected cars to intelligent transportation, from intelligent transportation to smart cities, and from smart cities to smart societies. The core of this is a people-centered approach, focusing on harmony between human beings and nature, and sustainable development. The foundation lies in the convergence of the four networks and four flows that I have proposed. The theoretical basis is the integration of the three worlds: physical, informational, and human-centered.

The deep integration of the human-centered world, information world, and physical world will expand the industrials chain. From the initial dual convergence of energy and information to the later triple convergence of transportation, information, and energy, I am also including the human-centered aspect of society. As the convergence expands, increased value is generated, leading to greater economic and environmental benefits.

Welcome to the intelligent society, characterized by digitalization, artificial intelligence, data-driven development, and a sharing economy. Intelligent vehicles will play a leading role in this revolution. The first half of our automotive revolution has been characterized by electrification, with core technologies including lightweight car bodies, high-performance integrated powertrains, and safe battery packs. For the past eight years, our country has been the world’s largest producer of electric vehicles. However, the second half of our automotive revolution still faces challenges in intelligentization, network connectivity, and shared mobility, with the core technologies being automotive chips and operating systems.I have summarized four factors contributing to the rapid development of new energy vehicles: 1. Innovation-driven; 2. Policy-driven and market-driven; 3. High-quality products, infrastructure, and business models; 4. Integration of transportation, energy, information, and cultural networks.

China’s electric vehicles have experienced substantial growth, with a variety of electric vehicles, including passenger cars and vehicles of various types. Today, I want to discuss how our smart-connected vehicles redefine the automobile industry as they are not just traditional mechanical products, but a combination of mechanical and electronic products, transitioning from simple transportation tools to intelligent mobile spaces. Traditional vehicles are product-driven and sales-oriented, while smart-connected vehicles are driven by both products and services, with distribution through dealer 4S stores and a digital new retail marketing model. The former focuses on manufacturing, while the latter centers on customer service.

Now let’s look at their positioning, core capabilities, and key technologies represented by enterprises. Traditional vehicles rely on suppliers like BOSCH and DENSO, while our technology focuses on chips and operating systems, as we’ve seen with Huawei’s involvement. Thus, the entire industrial chain has undergone significant changes, highlighting the latest developments in China’s smart vehicles. Electric vehicles are driven by electric motors and powered by batteries. Initially, they used lead-acid batteries, followed by nickel-metal hydride batteries in the 20th century, and lithium-ion batteries in the current era, starting with lithium manganese batteries. Today, there are two types – lithium iron phosphate (cheaper, safer, but with lower energy density) and ternary lithium (higher energy density, but with lower safety and higher cost). Now we’re entering a new age with various materials, including cobalt-free, lithium-saving, low-nickel, and high-manganese solutions.

Artificial intelligence greatly empowers our vehicles. For example, we can apply AI to intelligent planning and control for electric vehicles. It has many functions, but due to time constraints, I’ll give just one example.

Lastly, let me talk about the integration of the four networks and four flows. This was outlined in a white paper (PPT) co-published with the State Grid Corporation of China, the China Communications Institute, and Huawei. The core idea is to leverage digital technology and the fusion of the cultural, informational, and physical worlds to link automotive, energy, and information revolutions.

The essence is the integration of people, machines, and objects, or the cultural, informational, and physical worlds. Through this combination, we can transform data into information with the help of digital twins. We also need to further integrate twins through cultural means, turning information into knowledge that constantly updates. Additionally, through cultural methods, we need to turn knowledge into intelligence using cognitive twins. With intelligence, we can implement smart energy – transforming unused or wasted energy into useful energy and promoting carbon neutrality.Translate the following Markdown Chinese text into English Markdown text, retaining HTML tags in a professional manner, and output only the result:

Integrating intelligence into transportation evolves it into smart transportation, while integrating it into the city evolves it into a smart city. Transforming previously wasted energy into efficient energy. Smart transportation entails low carbon emissions, safety, high efficiency, and comfortable vehicular networking. A smart city is a city that is livable and business-friendly, where people enjoy comfort and happiness, industries thrive, and an industrial revolution is propelled. The first industrial revolution involved the discovery of steam engines; the second was marked by the generation of electricity; the third, the discovery of computers; the fourth, artificial intelligence. While AI is impressive, it could be dangerous without the aid of humanistic values; thus, we are currently transitioning from the fourth to the fifth industrial revolution, which integrates AI with humanistic and environmental aspects.

As such, the European Union has proposed Industry 5.0, which builds upon German Industry 4.0 centered on AI. However, EU Industry 5.0 prioritizes humanity, and Japan has similarly introduced Society 5.0, focusing on accurately distinguishing individual needs and emphasizing people-centeredness.

In conclusion, we must deeply integrate the physical, informational, and humanistic worlds. In the previous century, we focused on the progress of the physical world; at the beginning of this century, our attention shifted to the development and resurgence of the digital world. The digital world has created new value, improved productivity, and transformed our interpersonal relationships. However, we must adopt disruptive thinking to deeply integrate the physical, informational, and humanistic worlds to effectively convert data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into intelligence to tackle complex challenges. Solely relying on technology in the real world will not suffice for addressing intricate issues and embracing new challenges; we must deeply integrate the humanistic, physical, and informational worlds.

Finally, I would like to share some common aspirations with all of you. We need six eyes, as my own four are insufficient. Firstly, we must look forward to develop foresight; secondly, we must look backward to learn from history; thirdly, and most importantly, we must look upward for a comprehensive perspective; fourthly, we must look downward as we are engaged in engineering and need practicality; fifthly, we must look to the western countries and the United States, which are on our right side; sixthly, we must look to the eastern countries, such as Japan and South Korea. Embracing an all-round approach to gain knowledge and be versatile. The word “eye” stands for: inspiration, imagination, and innovation; however, integration is the most important aspect of today’s world, as interdisciplinary fusion ensures synergistic outcomes—a result where one plus one is greater than two. It is through implementation that our goals can be achieved. Yet, we also need investment and financing to broaden and strengthen our endeavors.Thank you, everyone.

This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email