Development status of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles in China

Analysis on the Development Status of China’s Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Similar to the development of pure electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles in China are also developing rapidly. The FAW Pentium B50 plug-in hybrid vehicle is equipped with a 1.5L CA4GA5H engine with a maximum output of 75kW. It is also equipped with a permanent magnet synchronous motor with an output of 40kW and a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 30A·h. It has functions such as idling start and stop, braking energy recovery, and can also provide multiple drive modes such as pure electric, engine alone drive, and hybrid drive; the maximum speed is 191km/h, and the acceleration time from 100 kilometers is 12.5s. When driving at a constant speed of 60km/h, the pure electric driving range can reach 45km, and when driving at a constant speed of 40km/h, the pure electric driving range can reach 60km. When charging with a household power source, the full time is 3h; when using a fast charger, the full time is 0.3h. Under NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) cycle conditions, the fuel consumption per 100 kilometers is less than 3.2L, which is 60% less fuel than traditional cars, as shown in Figure 1.

Development status of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles in China
Figure 1 – Pentium B50 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

BYD “Qin” plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, as shown in Figure 2. Equipped with 1.5TDI engine (maximum power 113kW/5200rad/min, maximum torque 240N·m/1750~3500rad/min) and 110kW motor, the maximum power and maximum torque reach 223kW and 440N·m respectively. At the same time, it is equipped with a lithium iron phosphate battery with a capacity of 10kW·h and a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The acceleration time per 100km is 5.9s, the pure electric driving range is 50km, and the fuel consumption per 100km under comprehensive working conditions is about 2.05L.

Development status of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles in China
Figure 2 – BYD Qin plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

Analysis of the development status of China’s fuel cell vehicles

In the field of fuel cell vehicle development, compared with developed countries, China started late and still has a certain gap with Japan, South Korea and other countries in terms of cost, performance, and key components. Since China initially focused on pure electric vehicles as the main development direction, relevant policies, material and financial resources have also been invested in pure electric drives, and the development of fuel cell vehicles has lagged behind.

China’s fuel cell vehicle products mostly adopt the form of hybrid power, using fuel cells with a certain power battery as the vehicle’s power source. At present, there is little research on fuel cell passenger vehicles in China, and the ones that have developed rapidly and have been mass-produced are mostly concentrated in the fields of passenger cars and logistics vehicles.

At present, only a small number of passenger car companies in China conduct research and development on fuel cell vehicles. SAIC Roewe demonstrated a Roewe 950 Fuel Cell fuel cell vehicle at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show. As shown in Figure 3, it uses a power battery and a hydrogen fuel cell system as the power source. The vehicle has a continuous driving range of up to 400km at a constant speed and can be started in a low temperature environment of -20°C. The power battery of Roewe 950 Fuel Cell uses the lithium iron phosphate battery developed by 811, and the fuel cell system is jointly developed by SAIC and Dalian Xinyuan. Roewe 950 Fuel Cell has two hydrogen storage tanks with a pressure resistance of 70MPa, and the hydrogen storage capacity is 4.18kg.

Development status of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles in China
Figure 3 – Roewe 950 Fuel Cell fuel cell vehicle

Driven by national policies, China’s fuel cell bus industry has developed rapidly. Bus companies such as Foton, Yutong, Zhongtong, and Suzhou Kinglong have conducted a lot of research on fuel cell buses, and their products are also operating in the market. As China’s first domestic bus company to obtain fuel cell bus production qualifications, Yutong invested professional efforts in new energy technology research as early as 1999. In 2009, it successfully launched the first fuel cell bus and made its debut at the Hannover International Commercial Vehicle Show in Germany. After 4 years of development, the second-generation fuel cell bus was launched in 2013. The whole vehicle adopts wheel-side motor drive and advanced communication bus technology. It is equipped with a high-pressure hydrogen storage tank. When driving at a constant speed of 40km/h, the maximum driving range can reach 300km. In 2016, the third generation of fuel cell vehicles came out, as shown in Figure 4, using the self-developed “Rise Control Technology”, the driving range can reach 600km under test conditions, and it only takes 10 minutes to fill up hydrogen fuel, and the cost is reduced by 50% compared with the second-generation fuel cell vehicle. In addition, Zitong will continue to accelerate the pace of marketization of fuel cell buses, and plans to launch the fourth generation of fuel cell buses this year (2018). The driving range is expected to increase to 800km and the fuel cell lifespan will also increase to 10,000h.

Development status of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles in China
Figure 4 – Yutong’s third-generation fuel cell bus