New energy, intelligence trend of automotive industry

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-09-22 14:12

BEIJING - With many new models of electric cars making debut at Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) 2017, the new trend of automotive industry - new energy and intelligent driving - has been highlighted again.

"The cars of the future will be automated, connected and emission-free," Matthias Wissmann, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) has said.

It is obvious that the ecology of the global automotive industry is undergoing restructuring, and many countries including China have adapted to the new trend featuring energy-saving, connected and automated driving.

Trend of electric mobility

At the IAA, worldwide carmakers unveiled new models of electric cars, making "electric" the key word for the grand event. Beyond the exhibition hall, many countries are mulling fossil fuel car ban.

China, after France and Britain among others, is gearing up to ban manufacturing and sales of diesel and gas cars in the world's largest car market, by announcing that it had started research on a timetable to phase out manufacturing and sales of fossil-fuel powered cars.

"In the 21 century, new energy vehicles surpassing traditional fuel cars is an inevitable future trend," said Yang Yuwei, technology department manager of Beijing Electric Vehicle Co.

"For one thing, it is doubtable whether fossil fuel could last till the end of this century; for another, nowadays customers expect their cars to be intelligent, internet accessible and entertaining, and it is easier to realize these functions in NEVs than in traditional ones."

China now leads the world in new energy vehicles development. The Chinese leading electric bus builder and the world's largest manufacturer of rechargeable batteries BYD has mastered the core technical chain of battery, electric motor and electric controlling system in NEVs field, Du Guozhong, head of the company's media relations department, told Xinhua Thursday.

Chao Xue, Manager of contract administration and project management of BYD, told Xinhua recently that "range is no longer the bottleneck, as BYD buses in most of the cases, have more than enough range to cover a full day service."

BYD is in leading position on efficiency, cost, service life that is the new direction of the industry, and its new energy vehicles have been used in more than 200 cities around the world.

Intelligent driving

In the megatrend of automotive industry, intelligent and connected car which can communicate with its surroundings and with other road users, would bring about great impact on the traditional car industry.

In the future, people will communicate with cars by speaking out ideas, making gestures, or giving a look, the autonomous driving engineer Bernhard Vaighinger told Xinhua at Frankfurt Motor Show.

Seizing the momentum, China has started to draft the innovation development strategy for intelligent cars, outlining the strategic direction of China's auto industry in a near future.

According to a report released at a forum held by Tsinghua University, China has surpassed Japan, the United States and Germany in patents of intelligent and connected cars, accounting 37 percent of the total patents worldwide.

Chinese artificial intelligence giant Baidu launched "Apollo" in April, an open, complete and reliable software platform for the automotive and autonomous driving industry.

It has conducted successful road tests for its fully autonomous cars on the highways and roads of Beijing in late 2015 and finished the open trial operation of its autonomous car fleet in late 2016.

BYD has also forged an ecology chain of Internet and autos, and has mainly realized integration of mobile and automotive systems, Du said, adding that "BYD autos will not only be a vehicle in the future, but also an interactive device, a virtual assistant even a money maker."

Challenge to traditional auto industry

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the IAA, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said German and international car makers now face many challenges from the governmental adjustment on diesel motors, including China's move that might eventually ban combustion engines in the largest car market and further change the whole industry.

Against such background, car manufacturers have taken refuge in grand promises of an electric and hybrid future.

Although electric cars are the future of the industry, as Merkel predicted, combustion engines would still be needed as a bridging technology as demand was booming in many parts of the world.

For electric cars, "there are still many technical difficulties to overcome, such as batteries, engines, intelligence, lightweight operating and internet connectivity. Besides, charging piles and other infrastructure need to be improved to accelerate the adoption of new energy vehicles," Yang said.

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