more electrics

July 15th, 2011

Yeah, I know, I’ve been silent a long time. I’ve been insanely busy. Trust me on that, cos I don’t want to revisit the details.

So it seems I’ve finally got a bit of time. Not much, and I can’t stray far from Beijing, but a bit of time. And I used it to open up The Beijing News/新京报 and I find more apparently to do with electric cars. Apparently they’re about to build 10 electricity charging stations for electric vehicles between Beijing and Tianjin along two of the major expressways between Beijing and Tianjin, the Beijing-Tianjin Expressway and the Beijing-Tianjin section of the Beijing-Shanghai Expressway.

Now, I’m in the midst of the good kind of busy-ness, the kind I enjoy out here in Yanqing with my daughter. I’m sneaking a chance to write this as she’s asleep instead of awake demanding toys or stories or nursery rhymes or some kind of attention. But my reading of this article has been seriously disrupted, so I apologise and welcome corrections if I get anything wrong in this post.

One of the linguistic issues I have with the article is the use of the word 电动车. In my experience, that usually refers to the electric bicycles and scooters that have become so popular. But the intercity and expressway context suggests to me that perhaps we’re looking at electric cars, perhaps a step up building on Yanqing County’s electric taxis. Another linguistic issue lies in the headline: 乘用车充换电站. I think that may be explained, if perhaps a tad indirectly, by this:

在中国电动车近年来的发展中,一直存在“以现场充电为主”和“以换电池为主”的技术路线争论。

In the development of electric vehicles in China over the last few years, there has been a constant debate between the “recharging on the scene as key” and “changing batteries as key” technological paths.

Yeah, I know, that’s the roughest-arse translation ever since I sat in the old John Bull pub and got chatting to a guy (North American from memory, but this was a long time ago, obviously) based in Shijiazhuang who claimed to be a translator, but, on seeing the opening ceremony of a Tianjin municipal sports meeting on the telly, couldn’t figure out that the characters “河东区”, “河西区”, “和平区” referred to the names of various districts of Tianjin and were introducing the teams from those districts. Alright, I had a slight advantage, working in Tianjin at the time, but still… Back to the cars: are we going to recharge or swap batteries? The phrase 乘用车充换电站 would seem to leave both options open for passenger vehicles travelling between Beijing and Tianjin.

I note also the intention to, using Beijing as a centrepoint, build a network of recharging stations around the Bohai Sea, because, as vice-chairman of marketing of the Beijing branch of National Grid notes:

电动汽车续航里程较短,一般不适合长途旅行。可如果在城际高速公路上建设电动汽车充换电站,将大大拓展电动汽车使用范围。

The range of electric vehicles is rather short, and they’re generally not suited to long-distance travel. But if we build recharging/battery changing stations on intercity expressways, we can greatly expand the range of use of electric vehicles.

The other really big takeaway I get from this article is that based on the 8 recharging stations already in existence (apparently – I can attest that based on the persistence of Yanqing’s electric taxis the Yanqing station is for real. The others I have yet to see), the National Grid is going to build within 5 years a total of 466 recharging/battery recycling stations, of which 385 will be open to the public. Of those 385 – and here I will have to be very careful:

充换电站175座,电池配送站210座

Nah, I dunno… 175 will be charging/battery changing stations and 210 will be battery distribution stations? Help?

Sorry, but I really am very worn out and I’m going to have to leave it at this. All I’m going to say is that I find Yanqing’s electric taxis very encouraging, and I take further encouragement from this article.

2 Responses to “more electrics”

  1. Ji Village News Says:

    Oh yeah mate, busy-ness, that makes the two of us. Hope things are going well for you all. I finished 路遥’s epic 《平凡的世界》三部曲and his long “Morning starts at noon” essay (highly recommended) recently, where he wrote at length how work gives meaning to life, and I admit this sounds lofty and pretentious, but I’ve got to say they gave me strength to go through the constant phase of high and numberous demands and lack of time. And yet work has to be balanced out with downtime and relaxation, but I digress…

    >>One of the linguistic issues I have with the article is the use of the word 电动车.

    I agree. I think usage of 电动自行车 and 电动小汽车 would have removed the ambiguity.

    >>Back to the cars: are we going to recharge or swap batteries? The phrase 乘用车充换电站 would seem to leave both options open for passenger vehicles travelling between Beijing and Tianjin.

    You are right. I think it means that it is a dual-purpose, battery charging and/or swapping, station.

    >>Nah, I dunno… 175 will be charging/battery changing stations and 210 will be battery distribution stations? Help?

    I wondered about the same thing when I read the original. Yes, my understanding is that 175 will be charing/swapping stations, and 210 will be battery distribution stations.

    I am encouraged by this as well. It is also nice that things are seemingly done in a well-planned way: researching and piloting, feedback loop learning and enhancement, expansion, repeat.

  2. wangbo Says:

    “I am encouraged by this as well. It is also nice that things are seemingly done in a well-planned way: researching and piloting, feedback loop learning and enhancement, expansion, repeat.”

    Yep, that’s certainly what it looks like. Start with 50-odd electric taxis out here in Yanqing, the experiment seems to be working well, so take it a step further, rinse, repeat. I’m encouraged, yes, but much more than that curious to see how this all unfolds. I’m also curious to see how the car companies respond, considering these electric taxis out here were made by a local company, Beijing Foton/福田, there were hybrid taxis built by Chongqing Chang’an on the streets over the Olympics (although where they disappeared to, I don’t know), and I’ve heard interesting things about BYD’s battery technology.

    And yes, electric cars require lots of electricity, but there’s a lot of investment going into nuclear and renewables…

    I also read a couple of days ago about Nissan thinking up interesting solutions to the battery disposal problem, considering the Leaf’s batteries apparently have a much longer service life than the cars they’re in. Ah, here it is: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/cars/news/article.cfm?c_id=142&objectid=10738560