China’s cities are blanketed by toxic haze with air pollution that can shut down places like Beijing. Of course, there are many citizens who want to move from a scooter to a car, but that could create more pollution. In steps carsharing, and an idea from Kandi Technologies Group that its small electric vehicles could be part of the solution in the city of Hangzhou, an hour-long train ride from Shanghai.
Kandi produces a small, Smart-car like EV that can go 75 miles on a charge and reach a top speed of 50 miles per hour. Seems like boilerplate EV territory, right? Except that they’re being stored in vending machine-like parking garages and can be rented for $3.25 per hour…
Through its joint venture with Geely Automotive, Kandi plans to build 750 of these garages in Hangzhou over the next four years. This will be supported by the government and Kandi’s 50-50 joint venture with Geely Automotive. Kandi wins, too, since it could supply up to 100,000 EVs to serve carsharers. If things work well in Hangzhou, this business model could spread to other Chinese cities and regions such as Shanghai, Shandong and Hainan.
I probably need to take a half-step-in here and sort out the usual myths about air pollution causes. Motor traffic is not the major source – almost ever. China’s problem is the same that afflicted the UK back when Glasgow was known as Auld Reekie and London’s famous fog was in fact smog.
The solution in China will occur with the completion of plans to do what London did – in the 1950’s. Eliminate coal fires for cooking and heating in homes. Good for 50% of all pollution. It will take completing a build-out of NatGas transmission pipelines and supplies – and hooking up all those homes.
I remember living through the same conversion in the New England factory town where I grew up. Believe me I did not miss waking up in the morning, throwing open my bedroom window and scraping away the layer of soot from the window sill before I leaned out to check out the day.