Chinese car maker BYD unveiled their Electric saloon car – the E6 – at the recent Shanghai Motor Show, and to be honest we didn’t take that much notice. Just another Chinese car maker launch and nothing that would massively interest our readers. But we were wrong.
The biggest problem with electric cars (or one of them, at least) is that the battery technology is not really up to the ambitions of car makers. Chevrolet’s Volt (aka Opel Ampera) is a good case in point. Tellingly, a Toyota tecchy referred to the science behind the Chevvy Volt as ‘Vaporware’, and the whole project is founded on the expectation that the technolgy will develop quickly enough to make the car a reality.
But the Chinese have managed to push battery technology in a different direction. Most batteries currently use lithium ion which is both expensive, rare and not particularly green. BYD have developed battery technology that uses ferrous ion, which is both plentiful and cheap. They are claiming that their technology makes the BYD E6 capable of a 400km range on a full charge, and 200km on a 50%, 10 minute refresh.
The one problem is that it can’t recharge from a domestic socket, so BYD are working with the Chinese Government and fleet operators to install a network of recharging stations ahead of the E6 launch at the end of the year. Which is a mammoth task, and one that would be even greater in the UK where we are now incapable (thanks to successive Governments’ blinkered views on power stations) of producing enough electricity for our current needs, but it is achieveable. And a 10 minute wait for 200kms (around 120 miles) of ‘fuel’ is something most could tolerate at their local filling station.
If we’re going to go the Electric Car route this is very promising. The promise is underlined by an investment of over £150 million by Warren Buffet, the American investor, not normally noted for making bad investment decisions.
We’ve said it before. The Chinese are going to make all the running in the car industry in the coming years. And here’s proof.