Asia is set to become the world′s biggest market for e-cars | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 18.06.2010
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Asia is set to become the world's biggest market for e-cars

The German Electro-Mobile Congress has been held in Bonn this week. The aim was to discuss the recent developments as well as challenges facing electric mobility worldwide, including in Asia.

A Volkswagen electric car model

A Volkswagen electric car model

In ten years' time, there will be approximately one million electric cars on the streets of Germany. At least that is the goal of the federal government. In Asia, though, electric cars could penetrate the markets even more quickly. For example in Japan, where some car manufacturers have already begun selling electric cars, although in small quantities. China seems to be poised to become the most important market.

There, the sale of electric two-wheelers has surpassed the sale of petrol vehicles in recent years. Even in the field of electric cars, the Chinese have an edge, says Michael Karus, organizer of the Electro-Mobile Congress in Bonn. "Last year the firm BYD produced and sold 6,000 vehicles - primarily in China and the United States."

China's Great Wall's electric car GW Kulla

China's Great Wall's electric car GW Kulla

German-Chinese joint venture

German carmaker Daimler and BYD are going to jointly develop a new electric car for the Chinese market, Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche recently said:

"We believe that in no country, the chances for electric engines are as high as in China, because it is simply necessary to become independent of oil if such a huge number of people want to drive a car. We have the best partnership with BYD. We bring in our technology and together we will develop the electric car market."

In Europe and Germany, many are reluctant to use electric cars. One disadvantage often mentioned is the problem of low range. After less than 100 kilometers, most electric cars need to be recharged, while conventional cars with a tank can go up to 600 kilometers.

Experts say for fast recharging, special stations will be needed

Experts say for fast recharging, special stations will be needed

Charging the batteries

With high-voltage electricity, the batteries can at least be recharged quickly. But this requires a network of special charging stations - similar to petrol and gas stations. And for that huge investment is needed.

However, Asian countries such as Singapore follow a more pragmatic approach: A normal electrical outlet is considered enough for recharging there, explains Jan Croeni of the company Eonlux.

"Vehicles are parked about 22 hours a day on average – they are not used, but parked. If I park it for 22 hours a day, then there is no problem if I have to charge it for eight hours - provided I do not drive more than 30-40 km per day. The argument that we need fast chargers is for me just as if you say: We cannot sell mobile phones, because no cell phone user would be prepared to wait for four hours until it is recharged because he is always talking on the phone. That's nonsense."

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit driving a Chevrolet Spark electric car, developed in collaboration with Indian firm Reva

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit driving a Chevrolet Spark electric car, developed in collaboration with Indian firm Reva

Future challenges

However, the fact that many car drivers in Singapore have no access to garages with sockets cannot be ignored either.

Only the future will show what kind of electric cars will succeed. Meeting the goal of lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will mainly depend on whether electric cars are powered by electricity from renewable energy sources.

Another concern is that a lot of lithium will be needed for the batteries, which is found only in a few places such as Bolivia, Chile, Brazil and China.

Author: Disha Uppal

Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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