-- In 15 years, China will run out of oil.
Gasoline. Petroleum. Whatever you want to call it.
Pick your poison. Unless they find a big oil reserve
like we did in North Dakota (and haven’t “harvested”
yet), or start offshore drilling in the international
waters of the Gulf of Mexico or Tonkin or elsewhere,
China will have to rely 100 percent on foreign oil.
Right now they get a lot from Iran, which explains
a lot of their conduct on the UN Security Council.
We may be in the same slow boat as China someday.
There are only so many dinosaur carcasses.
Showing the foresight of Confucius or Lao Tzu, China
is aggressively encouraging domestic electric vehicle
companies with subsidies and other incentives. Pilot
cities like Hong Kong and Shenzhen have electric taxicabs
and buses. 2011 is going to be an electric year!
I learned all this and more at the 4th annual seminar
on Chinese automobiles at the 2011 North American
International Auto Show (NAIAS) at Cobo Center in
my birth city of Detroit. This seminar was entitled
“China’s Road to Electrification: Government
and Industry Responses.” China Business Update
and China Automotive Review, a magazine all about
the Chinese auto industry once again presented an
excellent seminar with four very knowledgeable speakers
at a half-day seminar on Wednesday, January 12, 2011.
Michael Hanley of Ernst & Young, Paul Lin of BYD
Auto (10 percent of which is owned by Warren Buffett),
Linda Luo of China Business Update, and Lei Xing of
CBU/CAR all spoke wonderfully about issues surrounding
electric cars, not only in China, but in North America
I hope you will forgive me for this synthesis of their
respective statements, filtered through and enhanced
by my own understanding.
One of the best-known Chinese companies making electric
vehicles (EVs) is said BYD Auto, short for “Build
Your Dreams.” The e6 Premier is their purely
electric car and is now at the NAIAS’s main
showroom at the BYD exhibit. So is the F3DM, “the
world’s first mass produced plug in dual-mode
hybrid” according to China Automotive Review.
It can go 38 miles on a full charge, and another 313
miles on a full tank of gas. The Chevrolet Volt and
the F3DM both have internal combustion engines. BYD
is also the world leader in rechargeable batteries,
using nickel, lithium-ion, iron-phosphate and other
materials. BYD claims the iron-phosphate (Fe) battery
is biodegradable, with no toxic electrolytes, and
no heavy metals. Their Fe battery comes with a ten-year
When the F3DM breaks into the North American auto
market as early as 2012, it will probably cost around
$28,000. That’s $5,000 cheaper than the Chevy
Volt, after its rebate. And BYD’s pure electric
car, the e6, is now being tested as an eTaxi in Shenzhen,
a large city in southern China, where BYD is based.
BYD has an office in L.A. now, and is going to supply
the City of L.A. with some K9s, an all-electric bus.
There is a K9 on display at the BYD exhibit, too.
The K9 can go 136-174 miles/day, enough juice to go
from San Fernando to Westwood a few times a day. That
was the old bus route I lived off when I lived in
L.A. for a year the year after my freshman year at
The University of Michigan. It was quite a long route.
Westwood is where UCLA is. Of course, if a bus gets
caught in traffic, it will be losing charge the whole
time, but at least it won’t be adding to the
horrible smog. There were days when I lived in the
San Fernando Valley that you could not tell you were
in a valley. None of the mountains were visible, so
electric buses in L.A. are a terrific idea. Speaking
of mountains. BYD is going to use a wind farm in the
Tehachapi Mountains northwest of L.A. to store energy
for its batteries, the AP reported in December. Wunderbar!
Sixty-one percent of all air pollution in Hong Kong
can be eliminated once all taxicabs and buses are
electric, which is BYD’s noble goal. It will
not only cut down on CO2 emissions, but save a lot
China wants to be the world leader in electric cars,
and 2011 is a pivotal year. Hopefully, China’s
electrification efforts will make the next Olympics
in China a less smoggy affair, and that goes for L.A.,
By the way, I heard from one person at the seminar
who has been all over the world that New Delhi has
way more smog than any major city in China. So I sure
hope India is monitoring China’s efforts at
electrification, just like we need to be doing!
2011 is the moment of truth for electric vehicles.
Even South Africa is getting in the picture with the
Joule. There are now 120 million e-bike and e-trikes
(3-wheeled bicycles) in China. There are two charging
stations in Beijing, and those aren’t for electric
Besides Antarctica, South America is the only continent
that has yet to embrace electrification. Brazil has
cars that run solely on ethanol, and also cars that
run solely on natural gas, so they say phooey to electric
cars. The Middle East still likes gasoline-powered
vehicles, by the way, and doesn’t count as a
continent--part of it being in Africa, but most of
it being in Asia.
India has some electric cars, but if they can ever
harvest the methane from all those cows and make a
methane engine, watch out!
By the end of 2012, we should have a lot better picture
of the state of electric cars worldwide, and also
e-bikes, e-trikes, e-buses, and e-trains. An electric
bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai is scheduled
to start rolling this June. It will only take four
hours with a top speed of 240 mph!
Hopefully, BYD, GM, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and other
leaders in electrification will tackle all the issues
that come up. Let’s hope America’s aging
Grid can handle the surge in use that is inevitable
with the electrification of the transportation sector.
I hope the Tea Party does not mind terribly if we
spend some money upgrading the infrastructure of the
Grid. The Grid warned us once already that it needs
some attention back on August 14, 2003 when we had
the now-infamous Northeast Blackout. Our natural gas
lines in America have warned us even more recently,
as have our bridges….
Some might wonder what is the source of power for
the Grid. Well, there is coal, there is Niagara Falls,
there is nuclear power, and there is always The Sun
and wind, too, if we choose to harness their power.
BYD uses solar and wind power in China to power up
their EV charging stations. BYD also has an Energy
Storage System that can be used to upgrade the Grid.
BYD speaks of a “smart grid.” They are
thinking ahead and America can learn a lot from BYD
and China. A combination of silicon solar cells, wind,
and water power is the way to go, I think; but we
would really have to go hard and heavy to power the
entire Grid that way. Yet, we need to act now, before
another catastrophe. The technology is here, folks.
Yes, it needs some tweaking, some evolution, some
more innovations, but it is ripe for the plucking.
Paul Lin, Global Marketing Manager of BYD Auto, said
that nuclear power is not “sustainable,”
by the way.
“Where there is a will there is a way,”
someone said before everyone said it, and Plato first
wrote in The Republic, “Necessity
is the Mother of Invention.” We sure don’t
want to rely solely on “dirty” energies,
like nuclear and coal to produce the electricity to
power EVs. There is already enough irony in the world.
All this begs the question, of course, of where we
are going to dispose all the batteries powering all
these EVs. Next to all the nuclear waste? Some of
the chemicals used in EV batteries are rather toxic
and we never want them to seep into the water table.
We could store them in thick metal containers and
bury them, protecting them from terror attacks, human
error, and acts of God. We could put them in rockets
and fire them at The Moon or The Sun. But we might
want to mine The Moon for water and/or precious metals,
and what if those chemicals ended up changing the
chemical composition of The Sun? No, we can’t
We could fire them at Venus, named after the Goddess
of Love, making her the Goddess of Love and Hazardous
Waste, or we could just fire them into Deep Space,
perhaps at Pluto, in an attempt to correct its highly
elliptical orbit, or, better yet, at Eris, one of
whose co-discoverers claims to have killed Pluto;
so we could kill Eris instead to show him the infinite
nature of Irony; we could even attach a camera, and
beam back photos of the puny dwarf planet now thought
to be smaller than Pluto, and, once Pluto’s
diameter is re-measured by NASA’s New Horizons
probe in July of 2015, we will probably know for sure.
However, launching rockets currently requires a lot
of rocket fuel, leaving quite a carbon footprint.
Congress wants NASA to develop a heavy-lift rocket
by 2016 that can carry 70 tons of stuff, but NASA
says their budget will not allow it. You can’t
squeeze blood out of a turnip, nor tea. So, disposing
spent batteries on Earth, or recycling their materials
once they can’t be recharged, is probably the
best solution. We will just have to think of another
way to kill Eris.
Well, folks, this is my journalistic swan song. I
have to work full-time on my novel now. I have said
my peace here at AmericaJR.com, and now I really need
some Mike time. But like Tom Joad of The Grapes
of Wrath, I will be around when I am needed,
when I am perhaps least expected, least desired by
some, yet most secretly yearned for. I will never
abandon you. I am here for the duration. Goodbye,
Grid; goodbye, folks! Be safe!