China, with one of the world’s largest populations, remains a market highly untapped by foreign automakers looking to sell electrified vehicles. General Motors is one looking to change that, holding a workshop recently in Shanghai where it showcased some aspects of its long term vehicle electrification strategy.
GM, which has 12 joint ventures, two wholly owned foreign enterprises and more than 58,000 employees in China, sold more than 2.8 million vehicles there in 2012. It hopes a growing number of these will be electrified, and made mention of the following choices coming to Chinese drivers:
- A new Buick LaCrosse eAssist model with light electrification technology, which will be launched in China this month, builds on the success of the current model. It is powered by a smart hybrid powertrain that combines a 2.4L SIDI engine, a customized 6-speed transmission, a 15-kW electric motor and lithium-ion batteries. It consumes 5.2 liters of fuel per 100 km at a constant 90 km/h and 7.2 liters of fuel per 100 km under combined road conditions.
- Full hybrid technology with the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.
- The Chevrolet Volt is the first extended-range electric vehicle offered in China. It can travel up to 80 km on electric power. When its battery is depleted, its range-extending engine kicks in to take the Volt another 490 km.
- The locally produced Sail Springo EV is an all-electric vehicle that can go more than 130 km on a single charge, with less than 15 kWh consumed for every 100 km. It generates 510 Nm of peak torque and has a top speed of 130 km/h.
As for what GM is getting itself into by trying to sell electric cars in China, it will essentially find itself with an uphill climb. Despite progress in a government supported push of electric vehicles, there are still a lot of challenges facing this niche automotive market. For example, the cities of Shenzhen and Beijing were, as of the end of last year, the only ones to adopt more than 1,000 such vehicles.