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Shanghai Note: Driven to distraction by electric cars

  • Author:naky
  • Source:www.diecastingpartsupplier.com
  • Release on:2015-06-25
The great Chinese road trip is about to begin. In the next fortnight, tens of millions of motorists will shortly join at least 1bn others heading home for that mother of all Chinese holidays: lunar new year[15 feb].

My bronchial passages congest at the mere notion of so many pollution producers taking to the roads all at once. So I was delighted to learn that China’s State Grid had finished building quick-charging stations for electric cars along the 1,200km motorway from Shanghai to Beijing — and eager to give the vehicles a test drive. Xinhua, the state news agency, crowed proudly about the completion of 50 stations capable of charging eight cars each in 30 minutes flat.

And about time too: China is the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles, and nouveau riche renminbi have poured into purchases of the Tesla model S, the coolest green motorcar on the block. For at least a decade, Beijing has been decanting subsidies into the creation of a homegrown electric vehicle industry, hoping to leapfrog conventional engines and go straight to world dominance of green car technology. And China’s air pollution problem is so big that it must, like the Great Wall, be visible from space. So selling electric cars here ought to be about as easy as selling protective face masks. But it’s not.
Potential electric car buyers in China, like those everywhere else on Earth, worry a lot about how to charge their horseless chariots. Last month(Jan) Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, said charging angst had hit the company’s fourth-quarter sales in the country. Mr Musk told Bloomberg that Chinese buyers have nothing to worry about.

But Tesla cars can’t use the State Grid’s new charging stations, and a glance at a map of purpose-built Tesla charging stations between Shanghai and Beijing shows that drivers not only have to leave the motorway but often also drive for between 10km and 20km to find one. Small wonder they have what is known in the automotive world as “range anxiety”.

So Tesla models can’t capitalise on the State Grid’s new voltage largesse but the rest of us can, right? With all those new charging stations promising to put cars back on the road in about the time it takes to wolf down some fermented “stinky tofu” or a bowl of noodles at the motorway canteen, what’s to be anxious about, I thought?

Plenty: the stations aren’t open to the public yet. The State Grid hopes to make them operational in time for the annual insanity known as the chunyun or lunar new year migration — but I’m not betting my holiday on it.

No problem, I thought, I’ll do a bit of electric car tourism to somewhere not so far away , such as the suburb of Jiading, Shanghai’s own version of the Motor City, which has its own extensive network of charging stations. But quite apart from the fact that not even a Detroit native like me would voluntarily choose this heavily industrialised area for tourism, the rental car company told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to charge on the Jiading network anyway. Charging anywhere other than their own rental locations is forbidden.

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