Makers are releasing more efficient low-speed units for various applications.
Encouraged by rising demand for environment-friendly products, China suppliers of electric vehicles are expanding selections for different end-user segments. Recent releases include police cars, street-cleaning carts, vans and three-wheeled cycles with semi-enclosed cabins. In coming months, the industry is set to roll out more models with maximum speeds of 60 to 80kph.
Sales projections are optimistic, reaching double-digit levels, with incentives from governments at home and overseas stimulating market interest. Demand for such products is on the rise as these utilize only 30 percent of the power consumed by versions that can run 150kph. Sporting simple designs and low-power motors, they are also priced one-ﬁfth less than the latter at $4,500 to $10,000 each.
In 2010, annual output of low-speed electric cars exceeded 10,000 units, an increase of 10 percent from the previous year.
Growing market interest has prompted makers to start investing in facilities speciﬁcally for these products. As a result, yearly capacity is expected to reach 50,000 units by 2012.
At many enterprises, R&D efforts on low-speed vehicles center on extending running distance per charge. Releases with maximum speeds of 80kph or below can now traverse distances farther than 100km.
Shandong Jindalu Vehicle Co. Ltd, for example, has released golf cars capable of 150 to 180km stretches. Yongkang Fourstar Co. Ltd is offering the model SX-E0906 cruiser, which can be driven for about six hours or up to 36 holes on a golf course at 12 to 15kph.
To achieve such enhancements, particularly in upscale releases, a number of makers are incorporating lithium batteries instead of lead-acid types in their designs.
Jiangsu Yadea Technical Development Co. Ltd employs the former in motorcycles. Although this brings unit prices up, the adoption of such power sources reduces the weight of a model by 20 percent and increases average speed from 40 to 60kph to 70kph. In addition, lithium batteries can be recharged up to 1,000 times, almost twice the number of charging cycles offered by lead-acid variants.
A few suppliers are tapping PV technology to enhance performance. Among these enterprises is Jiangsu Yadea, which has developed a golf car ﬁtted with a solar panel that can extend travel distance by at least 20 percent.
Durability is another key consideration in the development of new products. China Xingue Electric Vehicle Co. Ltd, for instance, employs patented nylon wheels in its motorcycles and scooters. Compared with aluminum versions, thecomponents have better compressive strength and rust resistance.
China is home to more than 500 electric vehicle manufacturers, most of which are in Shandong, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Roughly 90 percent of the supplier base consists of private, export-oriented companies with mixed selections.
The country’s output of electric cars is about 100,000 units annually. The line includes buses, and passenger, freight, sports and recreational vehicles. Models typically comply with EEC and DOT speciﬁcations.
Electric buses often utilize LiFePO4 batteries and three-phase asynchronous AC or permanent magnet synchronous motors witha rated power of up to 150kW. After four to 10 hours of charging, these can run 400km at an average speed of 20 to 40kph. With prices starting at $180,000 per unit, designs have an 80 to 150-person seating capacity.
In freight vehicles and other types of cars, the use of 3 to 30kW brushless motors and lead-acid batteries is common. Most models can go as far as 180km after six to 10 hours of charging.
Units are typically ﬁtted with three or four wheels and can carry two to ﬁve people. Priced $10,000 or below, entry-level types have an average speed of 60kph. Makers generally construct the iron bodies of such products in-house, and outsource the motors, controllers, batteries and other components.
Variants that can cover 600km at 100 to 180kph on a full charge are also available. Typically equipped with imported parts, these go for at least $50,000 each.
In the powered two-wheeler sector, annual output is about 5 million units yearly. Models usually have bodies and related parts made of steel, and aluminum alloy wheels. Brushless motors, and disk or drum brake systems are also common. Semi-enclosed cabins are an option.
For power, the majority of releases adopt lead-acid batteries, although lithium versions can be found in the high end. Rated voltage ranges from 24 to 64V, with 48V versions the most prevalent.
Batteries are the primary price determinant in electric PTWs as these constitute more than 50 percent of total outlay. Motor power and international certiﬁ cation are the other key considerations.
Low-end types adopt lead-acid batteries with capacity ranging from 9 to 15Ah. On a full charge, units can travel 15 to 30km at a maximum speed of 20kph. With a 120 to 350W motor, these are priced $40 to $100 each.
Models that reach $400 have lead-acid batteries with 20 to 40Ah capacity. Using a 300 to 800W motor, such products can traverse a distance of up to 100km at 50kph.
High-end designs are generally capable of covering the same stretch but can deliver higher speeds, with 80kph the maximum.
Reaching $1,000 per unit, these vehicles employ 500 to 3,000W motors.
Jiangsu Lvneng Electric Bicycle Technology Co. Ltd
Model: FL5000W ZH-1
Model: SX-E 1000ATV-A
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