The BAIC EV150 [Image Source: BAIC]
Chinese company Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co (BJEV), part of BAIC International Corporation, has opened its first research and development center outside China, the BAIC EV R&D Center in Silicon Valley, California, which opened officially on August 21st. BJEV described the opening of the facility as a milestone for the company which demonstrates the ability of the Chinese electric vehicle industry to operate globally instead of merely confining its activities to China. The center is aiming to produce three EV models with ranges from 124 miles to 248 miles (200-400 kilometers) with the first vehicle possibly appearing at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in 2016.
BJEV chose Silicon Valley for its record of innovation on the cutting edge of science and technology, in addition to the presence of numerous prestigious university-owned research centers, a thriving technology start-up sector and industry giants such as Google, Apple and Tesla. The new facility has been established in association with Beijing New Engineering Research Institute and in its current launch phase employs over twenty people dedicated to the research and development of four to six EV models per year. The company is also aiming to achieve improvements in both overall capability and market competitiveness which will guarantee the company’s continued progress with regard to vehicle technology in general, particularly in areas such as vehicle networking and autonomous driving technologies.
The facility will also operate as a base from which BJEV can integrate itself into the global automotive marketplace, in association with leading Chinese companies involved in battery technology and telematics. These include Guo–xuan High-tech which specializes in battery cell design, materials technology and power management and Ctec-motor which has expertise on in-car electronic components, telematics and autonomous driving aids.
“Our strategy of conducting research into integrated vehicle technologies and platforms in an open manner has led to BJEV receiving resources and technical cooperation from eight universities and national institutes in research in development, as well as substantial support from partners from within the supply chain, such as Foxconn, Pangda and Tgood” said BAIC’s General Manager, Mr. Zheng Gang. “The establishment of BAIC EV R&D Silicon Valley will further our integration of technology resources from our other industry partners, such as AZARI and ATIEVA from the United States, CECOMP from Italy, Siemens from Germany, SK from Korea, and several others, all in order to ensure that we are constantly innovating in the fields of technology, service and business organization.”
Mr Gang added that the center will enable the Chinese automobile industry to grow stronger and assist in BJEV’s globalization targets.
BJEV is also involved in various other initiatives, such as a shared subscription agreement with ATIEVA enabling joint cooperation on EV production. Vehicles emerging from this collaboration may very well also appear at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in 2016.
The company claims an increase in sales reaching 6,223 units through June 2015, thereby putting it at the top of the Chinese EV market and sixth place in global ranking with regard to EVs. It has also launched the ‘Blue Skies Project’, aimed at encouraging renewable energy corporations to upgrade to the B2C industrial ecosystem. BJEV has additionally completed the construction of over 7,000 charging stations, 1,600 of which are for general public use, in order to encourage wider EV ownership. Its ultimate aim is to increase yearly production numbers to over 200,000 by 2020 with a 30 percent target for the export market.
The Chinese EV market definitely seems to be growing rapidly, with sales of ‘green cars’ quadrupling in the country this year. At the top of the market is a plug-in hybrid, the BYD Qin which is the first of many EV’s set to appear from BYD this year. Other top models include the the Kandi K10, the Chery QQ3 EV, the Zotye E20, the BAIC E150 EV, and the BYD e6.
Written by Robin Whitlock