China seems to be hedging its bets on meeting stiffening emissions and fuel economy regulations, and addressing consumer demand for cleaner air. Electric vehicles remain part of the strategy, but their high cost, limited range and lack of infrastructure have kept sales at a slow pace. Hmm, that kind of sounds familiar, doesn't it?

As automakers are doing in the US, China-based manufacturers are exploring fuel-saving technologies that don't rely on plugging in, things like turbocharging and direct injection for gasoline and diesel engine powertrains. Chinese consumers are reticent about spending more on EVs, but they are paying extra for technology upgrades that improve fuel economy and driving experience.

Automotive supplier BorgWarner has seen its turbocharger sale double in China over the past three years. The company expects it to double again in the next three years, thanks to tougher fuel economy and emissions standards, and the fact that turbocharged vehicles are more fun to drive, according to BorgWarner China president Tom Tan. About 80 percent of turbochargers will be installed on engines between 1.4- and 2.0-liters, he added. Chinese government policy plays a role in turbocharger growth in small engines, since taxes are much higher on engines above 2.0L.

Direct injection technology is following the turbocharger trend. UK-based engineering consultancy, Ricardo, is seeing automakers clients requesting more direct injection, and expects that all gasoline-powered engines in China will include turbocharging and direct injection within 10 years.

Chinese automakers would like to be seen as technologically innovative, a central theme at last month's Shanghai Motor Show. Geely, for example, showed off its "self developed" turbocharged direct injection engine integrated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Government subsidies have failed to incentivize consumers to buy battery-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles in China in huge numbers. Larger subsidies are expected for hybrids, including plug-in hybrids, in the next few months. The Chinese government wants 500,000 hybrids and EVs on the road by 2015 and five million by 2020, but Chinese consumers only purchased 11,375 EVs and plug-in hybrids last year.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Turbochargers and DI are so ordinary now. The cool kids are going to have to go straight to nitrous. (j/k). Remember when Ford said they were going to ship a Mustang with nitrous (or similar) from the factory? They instead ended up going to superchargers, I think they even shipped a one-shot charge overcooling system for a while.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well . . . just keep on buying gas cars, China and it won't be too long before everyone soon realizes why plug-ins have advantages. China is adding more brand new gasoline consumers than pretty much anywhere else. But very few places are becoming new oil extractors.
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        @ Spec "But very few places are becoming new oil extractors." Worryingly, that may not be as true as we once thought. It may sound heresy to generations brought up to believe oil (fossil fuel) depletion is certain, but recent developments in extraction technology are disproving that belief. I have been an advocate of "economic oil depletion" since I was at high school in the early sixties. The concept of finite economic fossil fuels, on a finite planet, seemed to make perfect sense. By 2009 it appeared that economic Oil depletion (peak oil etc) was confirmed by even major oil companies. But the recent development of new exploration and extraction technologies, may alter all previously held beliefs. Nano explorers, travelling through natural fissures in rocks and communicating with computers through micro-fibre wires of graphene have reduced the cost of exploration, while 'octopus' technology , has slashed extraction costs for previously inaccessible, or uneconomic oil/gas fields. Only five years ago, if someone had told me the US would become energy independent in fossil fuels, and a net exporter, I'd have laughed. Five years ago, if you had told me that New Zealand had vast accessible oil reserves, I would've been very sceptical. But both of these are in the process of coming true. With the greatest of reluctance, I invested both my own and client money in NZ oil. Those investments are now worth 30 times their original value. These technologies are advancing at an incredible rates. A resurgence of economic fossil fuels, will bring problems both economically, and environmentally. It will be especially bitter for those whose ideologies, will not allow them to accept the new reality. A real quandary for "green" investors, (including governments) who believed in imminent oil depletion. This new dynamic will be very hard for those governments, and political parties deeply committed to fossil fuel depletion. It will be especially hard for those alternate energy advocates who believed that 'science' would always be their friend. The most difficult position will be for practical environmentalists. We will have to switch from a position of replacing fossil fuels, to a policy of harm minimisation. Environmentalists, who oppose fossil fuel use or deny the new economic reality, will become as relevant as the old Luddites. OTOH, technologies like carbon sequestration etc, will become new industries created to meet the new reality. Electric vehicles will still play a part, but only if batteries, (ESD's) can develop rapidly to take advance of NG generated power. Of course these new technologies are still at a very early stage, nothing is certain, but early indications are very promising. Even bigger challenges lie ahead, once the results of the research ship Chikyu current voyage become known. I accept that for some, this is very unpleasant news, but the possibility of a new reality can't just be dismissed.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Marco, I have been reading articles on here for years, and have noticed a truly massive, endless amount of commentary from you...seemingly always boiling down to the same few points...that we need the oil industry, and technology is going to keep oil abundant, etc... What's your deal? I mean, what's your motivation? All this writing takes time and effort. I'm not sure what finally got me to ask this....but it just seems weird, even though I like some of your points. I also like most of Spec's comments, and they are almost always followed by one of yours refuting something. Despite your knowledgeable posts, I am not convinced that the impressive new oil extraction tech is going to provide continuing quantities sufficient to supply China's growing transportation sector. No math I have ever seen comes close to suggesting that. You might not be saying that either, but it seems clear to me that China will be pursuing quite a few oil-free strategies for transportation. I have been following a Chinese maker of EV's for several years, so I'm always reading about EV plans there. Quite a bit of infrastructure and manufacturing capacity has already begun to be built out. Much of it is just pilot programs, but some real momentum is starting in a couple cities. Shep
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ Spec, You don't think nano-chemical robot sensors, (500 nanometres in size) capable of travelling thousands of feet through natural fissures in rock formations, is new technology ? Nor advances in software and digital applications determining oil field management and drilling ? Azimuth decomposition, imaging, characterization, and analysis systems. Chevron's 1 billion cell simulator with 25 terabytes of memory. Saying there's no new oil exploration or extraction technology, is like saying there's no new battery technology because because Gaston Planté invented the lead-acid battery 1859. You seem stuck with the concept that the availability of oil and gas, is tied to lower oil prices. It's not. The huge surpluses of cheap oil in the past, was a phenomenon of booms created by low demand and plentiful supply, much like gold rushes. Historically, energy has been undervalued as a factor in the industrial pricing structure. Just as when all the initial alluvial gold is gone, it's not the end of the gold industry, just the beginning of the industry settling down, accepting the boom is over and the cost gold production becomes another factor in the general industrial process. In the same way, oil and gas have evolved past the 'boom' times, and remain competitive energy industries. But there's a huge difference between no longer being a boom, and extinction ! All your old idea's about pricing, are based on boom-time prices. The oil and gas industries are entering a phase of rationalisation. The early twentieth century's supply of cheap, abundant energy is over. But that doesn't mean 'peak oil', 'doomsday,' oil depletion theories are correct ! In fact Kern river oil field is a prime of the peak oil myth. In 1949, after 50 years of drilling, Kern River was thought to be played out, with maybe 47 million barrels in reserves remaining. It was Kern River that M. King Hubbert, used as an example in his 1956 speech that first expounded the predictions of oil depletion, and employed the term 'Peak Oil' ! It was Kern River, that panicked Pres, Jimmy Carter into subsidising the Coal to give the US greater energy independence. Carter was advised that the US was nearing 'oil depletion' and adopted the 'peak oil' philosophy. In fact, OPEC price rises only forced acceptance of the true price of energy. But how true was the example of Kern River ? Since M.King Hubbert's 1956 speech, Kern River has produced another 3 billion barrels ! With estimated reserves of double that number ! Yet like many predictions, Hubbert's erroneous theory has become an accepted 'fact' . So many scholarly papers, and pronouncements about 'peak oil', based on Hubberts work have become accepted, but no one has challenged the validity of the original assumptions.
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ cshepguy Having substantial investments in the EV industry, I am concious of competition from other competing technologies. I'm also aware of the fickleness of the marketplace. All technology is only possible to be developed if supported by investment. Investment, public and private ultimately relies upon the technologies viability. Unrealistic expectations, based on erroneous, ideological/political/ philosophic assumptions, often creates booms in investment, especially by governments. Most of these booms, ultimately go bust, taking down the viable parts of the industry as well as the failures ! The PRC is a huge and growing market for everything ! But the PRC's commitment to alternate energy is largely for show. The PRC is heavily committed to developing fossil fuel energy resources. That's not to say some sections of the CCP and PRC private industry people aren't sincere about pollution and alternate energy, just that it's not a high priority overall. Americans tend to think of oil, as black stuff that comes from underground pools. Stick in a straw and suck out the oil ! Scientists and the oil Industry think in terms of Petroleum. Petroleum, (or Petroleum energy) consists many different compounds. Various grades of oil, mixed with methane, ethane, propane, butane, and other hydrocarbons. These occur in everything from solid sandstone or limestone strata, (riddled with minute pores), to thin sheets between layers of shale. The most remarkable of these, is the discovery of frozen methane hydrates below the sea bed. Although, the exact composition and feasibility of commercial utilisation will be better known after the current voyage by the Japanese research vessel Chikyu, completes it's mission, the potential for this source of energy is almost unlimited. (Maybe as much as one million times the world's annual energy needs). Sounds fantastic ? Well it it is ! But lots of the technology that we use today, once sounded fantastic. Maybe it isn't yet obvious in the US, but in the rest of the world, a tidal wave of public resentment has started to rise against the excess's of extreme environmentalist claims and predictions. My fear is that along with all the crazy ideology, hatred of oil companies, wildly excessive doomsday predictions, etc, valuable advances in environmentally beneficial technology, will also be swept away on this tide of public resentment against the profligate spending policies of failed schemes and economically disastrous projects. Oh, and to answer your other question, this reply to you and Spec took nine minutes to write, while I waited for a connecting flight. ( I used to do crosswords to kill time when travelling) ! :)
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          There certainly has been a lot of 'peak oil is dead' hype lately. But the facts just don't support it. As you mention, they claim 'recent developments in extraction technology are disproving that belief'. But horizontal drilling is not new . . . they've done it for more than 30 years. Fracking is not new . . . they've done it for more than 30 years. Shale formations have long been known to contain some oil. What is different is that the price of oil went from $20/barrel around 2000 to around $100/barrel now. This made known deposits in shale economically viable. So they started drilling them. But this will never drive the price down low. Why? Because if the price were to drop, then it would no longer be profitable to drill it! So we've heard for nearly a year now about this new massive production growth (and there has been massive production growth in the USA). But what is the oil price? Near $100/barrel. As they say, actions speak louder than words . . . the price is the "action". The words are all those hype stories you have read.
          krona2k
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Peak oil hasn't gone away, we've had peak conventional oil. It may be some time before we have peak unconventional oil but each barrel costs more to extract than the last. We should be glad that unconventional oil became economic at $100/barrel otherwise we would be in a much much worse position than we are.
      mattkpsu
      • 1 Year Ago
      Plug-ins make no sense when you have no garage to park your car in. 99% of these people live in condos. There is no outlet. Gas is more expensive there, but the mean wage is lower. And they spend more on housing than us. Plus the auto taxes and tolls are high. So something has to give. So, they tend to have the lower output engine, unless it's a business and they are chauffeuring VIP's. During my last trip there, I was surprised Hyundai does not offer the 2.0T sonata there. That would seem to make sense. The one caveat with all this is the dealers are new, the mechanics are new, and adding all this tech is scary from a maintenance point of view.
        krona2k
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mattkpsu
        I don't have a garage and own a LEAF. Yes I do have a driveway but charging outside work perfectly fine. Sometime the cable is a bit wet - I'll put up with that being able to do 800 miles a month for just £20.