The Beijing municipal government plans to replace hundreds of gasoline-fueled buses with environmentally friendly electric vehicles for public transportation by 2008, as part of its pledge for a "green" Olympic Games.
Chen Shiquan, director of the Electric Vehicle Research Division at Tsinghua University, said the Beijing government hopes to see 800-1,000 electric vehicles for public transportation by 2008, accounting for some 5 percent of the estimated 18,000 total buses.
"The scheme is to rein back the tail gas emission, the major contributor to air pollution in Beijing," said Chen, who is also a consultant to the municipal government. "Electric vehicles are one of the most feasible ways to meet the government's emission control target, especially when the quality improvement of Chinese gasoline and diesel products are discouraging at present."
Compared with conventional gasoline or diesel fueled cars, electric vehicles cause much less pollution as they produce only water and oxygen when driving.
Chen, who was attending an automobile seminar sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers of China, also said electric cars with "zero emission" are expected to be used around some gymnasiums and athlete communities during the 2008 Games.
China has said it will invest 880 million yuan (US$106 million) over the next few years to speed up the development of electric vehicles to reduce air pollution in major cities, as well as to alleviate the oil shortage.
The commercialization of electric vehicles is an important part of the Ministry of Science and Technology's scientific plan for the next few years.
Chen admitted there is some difficulty in promoting the use of electric vehicles in the near future, as they are twice as expensive than conventional diesel or gasoline fueled vehicles.
"But in some special cases, like the Olympic Games, even the high-cost is acceptable with government subsidies," Chen said.
The government encourages all domestic companies, regardless of their ownership, to take part in the production of electric vehicles or other low-pollution power sources, said Li Jian, director of the ministry's Department of High-Tech Development and Industrialization.
Specific projects will be open for bids, and those who win bids will receive governmental funding, Li said.
Chen said international auto giants, including Ford and Volkswagen, are interested in co-operating with Chinese companies to produce electric vehicles.
(China Daily June 13, 2002)