China’s Alternative Vehicles at a Crossroad

Although Beijing will have a few electric buses operating during the Olympics, China’s continued adoption of alternative energy vehicles will face many challenges without consistent policy support from the central government. From Ouyang Changzheng in Caijing Magazine:

Near Beijing’s Olympic Sports Center, electric buses quietly wait in line for a robot that removes dead batteries and installs fully charged replacements. Each high-tech swap takes about eight minutes.

The 5,000-square-meter facility is the country’s first, independently operated electric vehicle charging station. It also represents the first commercial application of its kind for alternative vehicles in China.

But this could be the last charging station in China, at least for awhile, according to Lin Cheng, deputy director of the Beijing Institute of Technology (BTI), which jointly developed the station with national power distributor State Grid Co.

High costs coupled with a lack of clear policy support from the central government could limit China’s near-term use of battery powered buses, trucks and cars to the Olympic weeks. Meanwhile, the country is struggling to plot a future course for an alternative vehicle industry.