Coal and the future of Chinese transportation

The downside of cheap coal

When it comes to the future of the auto industry and personal transportation, China is quickly becoming the world’s most important country. Consequently, every major automaker is aggressively seeking to establish and/or to grow their business in this ever-important country.

Even more interesting, for many reasons China has also been seen as a key piece of the battery-powered automotive revolution. A new study, however, casts some doubt on that potential.

According to a Tsinghua/Argonne Study plug-in electric vehicles in China will increase CO2, SO2 and NOx emissions – possibly even significantly – without a major and costly cleanup of China’s coal-powered electric grid.

“As analyzed in this work, it is the current high emissions of power plants that are going to make EVs a less favorable option than other alternatives in China, such as HEVs, which are more environmentally friendly, more commercially mature, and less cost-intensive. Currently, in the Chinese vehicle market, taking products of the BYD Company as an example, HEVs (20,000-25,000 US dollars) are much more expensive than conventional ICEVs (8000-10,000 US dollars) of equivalent size, but the price of EVs is even higher (>30,000 US dollars). The costs and benefits of different technological options need to be further explored.”


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