Volkswagen plans all-electric car for China next year

VW Golfs are loaded in a delivery tower at the plant of German carmaker Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Germany, in this March 14, 2017 photo. (Reuters)
Updated 18 April 2017
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Volkswagen plans all-electric car for China next year

SHANGHAI: Volkswagen (VW) plans to launch its first pure-electric car in China next year as Beijing steps up pressure on the industry to promote alternatives to gasoline.
The announcement Tuesday comes on the eve of the Shanghai auto show, which showcases industry efforts to create electric models with consumer appeal. General Motors Co.’s (GM) Buick unit and Ford Motor Co. also have announced new electric vehicles for China this year.
The VW model will be the first in a range of electric vehicles in China, said Jochem Heizmann, head of VW’s China unit. It is due to be produced under a new brand name with a local partner, state-owned Jianghuai Automotive Corp.
“This will be a new cooperation on pure battery cars,” said Heizmann.
China has the world’s most aggressive electric car goals. Communist leaders are promoting them to clean up smog-choked cities and in hopes of taking the lead in an emerging technology.
Regulators have jolted the industry with a proposal to require electric cars to account for at least 8 percent of each brand’s production by next year.
At the auto show, the global industry’s biggest marketing event of the year, almost every global and Chinese auto brand is showing at least one electric concept vehicle, if not a market-ready model.
Heizmann said VW, which vies with GM for the title of China’s top-selling automaker, expects annual sales of at least 400,000 “new energy vehicles” — the government’s term for electric or gasoline-electric hybrids — by 2020 and 1.5 million by 2025.
The plan to create a new brand for the VW-Jianghuai partnership follows an approach taken by Mercedes-Benz, GM and Nissan Motor Co. Foreign brands are under pressure from Chinese regulators to help local partners create indigenous brands.
Despite government subsidies and other encouragement, electric cars have yet to catch on with China’s driving public due to concern about their limited range. Most Chinese automakers sell plug-in battery models but their range is usually no more than 120 to 150 kilometers (75 to 95 miles) — too little to attract most buyers.
Sales of electric and gasoline-electric hybrids fell 4.4 percent from a year earlier to 55,929 vehicles while sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) rose 21 percent to 2.4 million.
Heizmann said the industry should find a way to create electric models that appeal to consumers. He said VW was trying to do that by developing vehicles for different market segments.
“You have to achieve cars which are competitive,” he said.
To encourage foreign automakers to help develop China’s electric vehicle industry, regulators have allowed them to form additional joint ventures with local partners on top of the two that are allowed for traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
That allowed Volkswagen to create its partnership with Jianghuai alongside ventures with two other state-owned automakers.
Heizmann said foreign manufacturers also are no longer required to hand over electric technology to Chinese partners. He said VW’s venture with Jianghuai involves jointly developing the product.
“We will be fast. We will use their technology. We will put in some of our own technology and experience,” he said.
Heizmann said Volkswagen’s luxury unit, Audi, is coming to market with a plug-in electric version of its A6 sedan that can go 50 kilometers (35 miles) on one charge.
In its next stage of development, VW plans to produce a version of its Golf for China with a 300-kilometer range, Heizmann said. He said plans then call for vehicles designed from scratch for pure-electric propulsion with a range of 500 kilometers or more.
Beijing also is steadily tightening fuel efficiency and emissions standards, which Heizmann said are on track to become the world’s most stringent. He said that would narrow the “cost gap” between electrics and gasoline by requiring more expensive technology for internal combustion while batteries should get cheaper.
At the same time, Heizmann said Volkswagen and its Audi and Skoda brands also are aggressively promoting SUVs. He said the brands plan to roll out a total of 10 new locally produced SUVs over the next two years.


General Electric to trial world’s largest wind turbine in Britain

Updated 24 April 2018
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General Electric to trial world’s largest wind turbine in Britain

  • Britain is aiming to be a leader in offshore wind technology
  • The largest wind turbines currently in operation are MHI Vestas’ 9 MW turbines in Aberdeen, Scotland

LONDON: US conglomerate General Electric will test the world’s largest wind turbine in a facility in northeast England, it said on Tuesday.
GE Renewable Energy, the renewable arm of the US firm, and the British government-funded Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult signed a five-year agreement to test GE’s Haliade-X 12 megawatt (MW) turbine in Blyth, Northumberland.
“This is an important agreement because it will enable us to prove Haliade-X in a faster way by putting it under controlled and extreme conditions,” John Lavelle, president & CEO of GE’s Offshore Wind business said in a statement.
Britain is aiming to be a leader in offshore wind technology and its capacity could grow by five times current levels to 30 gigawatts by 2030, according to a report funded by a range of industry participants.
Britain’s energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry welcomed the agreement and said it highlights Britain’s world class research and testing facilities.
The largest wind turbines currently in operation are MHI Vestas’ 9 MW turbines installed at Vattenfall’s windfarm off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Companies have been building larger turbines to help get more power from each turbine installed and drive down the cost of the electricity they produce.
The agreement also includes a 6 million pound ($8.5 million) combined investment from Britain’s Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to install the world’s largest and most powerful grid emulation system at the Catapult’s Blyth center.