1 Apr 2014

Will Electric Cars save the capital of China?

C writes:*

Beijing, the capital of China, reaches the “orange level” of air pollution measured by the World Health Organization. In many cities, the toxic smog caused by economic developments is now dangerous for people to live. Daily routines are seriously affected, people are covered with gas masks and schools have to build “air purified indoor gyms”. One of the major air pollution sources is vehicle emission, and there are more than five million cars sharing the jammed roads in Beijing. Reducing vehicle emission must be put into action by the government in order to reduce the smog, which means decreasing the volume of operating vehicles, or increasing the usage of electric vehicles.

Luckily, we now have electric vehicles manufactures in mass production. One of them is Tesla Automotive from USA and the other one is BYD from mainland China. Compare to traditional gasoline vehicles, electric cars have Zero emission (without considering the generation of electricity), and higher energy conversion rate. Would the government of China save its capital by enforcing the use of electric cars? Or will China continue the path of London and Los Angeles’s smog disasters that happened during the 20th century?

Bottom Line: Electric cars will reduce the smog in Beijing

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


9853 said...

“Will electric cars save the capital of china?” I think the answer is no. The vehicle emission is not only and not the mainly reason of toxic smog. There are several factors that cause the toxic smog in China, such as: coal mining pollution, factory pollution and dust etc. The coal mining pollution is another primary reason. By replacing gasoline cars, electric cars could help decrease the vehicle emission, but it can’t solve other pollution problems. In order to ideally and overall dealing with toxic smog problem, we need to have comprehensive perspective to combine the economic policy, regulation and technology improvement.
Last four digits ID:9853

2401 said...

I read some other articles about the the battery of the electric vehicles. To produce electric cars in China is definitely not that green as the electric car companies said, because not only to see the final product but the entire production chain and also the transportation energy use in the production process. Those may cause more serious environmental pollution. China is the biggest pollution electricity generated in the production process. A decade ago, Tokyo's vehicle population has over 7 millions, compare to Beijing 5 millions, but Tokyo's air pollution problem was not serious as Beijing now. So I think gasoline cars are not the biggest problem of the toxic smog.

4 digits ID:2401

7397 said...

reply to 2401:
Consider a electric vehicle's whole product life, its production and recycle of battery is not zero-emission at all. But at least it would not toxic the Beijing air like gasonline vehicles.
Vehicle emissions reduction should be put in act with other reduction policies on differ sectors in order to solve the Beijing toxic smog.

9832 said...

9832 said:
I don't think replacing traditional vehicles by electric vehicles will help decreasing haze a lot.
Lets discuses this problem from the origin of the power. Actually many power plants in China are burning coal to generate electricity, which is even worse than gas. So we cannot say driving electric vehicle must be cleaner. Also we have to consider that there must be some energy wasted during the transportation. Then think about the vehicle itself. Electric vehicle is using battery to store electricity. But the battery is also an important source of pollution when it's scrapped. Furthermore, the transaction cost for replacing traditional vehicle by electric vehicle is huge, not only because people have to pay money to buy the car, but also because it takes a really long time to replace all traditional vehicles by electric vehicles.
So I think electric vehicle may not be a good solution for decreasing air pollution. In my opinion, installing exhaust gas treatment plant on every vehicle may be easier and more efficient.

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