The Chinese capital city of Beijing has rolled out a spanking new fleet of more than 1,000 electric garbage trucks. Since the end of last month, some 1,060 of the green sanitation trucks have been roaming the roads of Beijing, carting off refuse, sweeping the streets and spraying water to help clean up the busy, people-packed city.
There can be few countries or major cities more keen to find alternatives to the various pollution-belching modern devices that scientists promise us will cause the planet to overheat, the polar ice caps to melt, the deserts to spread and the seas to rise. The 2008 Olympics were a watershed event for the long-closed nation, which has rapidly expanded its role in the global economy and was watched carefully by the world’s observers, who expected the great sporting spectacle to disappear in a haze of smoke from power stations, dirty old vehicles and no small number of chain-smoking Chinese.
In the end, the Chinese government brought in heavy-handed (by Western standards) rules that forced roughly half of the city’s motorists off the roads, and shut down power stations and factories in the area around the capital. To the amazement of many pundits, the Olympic games did not descend into a farce of smog-addled sports competitors.
Given the rapid expansion of the Chinese economy and various industries, the country has long been working on various forms of alternative energy resources and green vehicles. The latest involves eco-friendly garbage trucks with three loading capacities.
The trucks can carry 2 tonnes, 8 tonnes or 16 tonnes and there are eight models. They are working the streets in 14 regions of the capital, as well as its various counties.
The first 78 trucks will hit Changan Street, plus Beijing’s second and third ring roads. The eco-trucks are all-electric and can cover between 90kms and 100kms on a single charge.
The electric trucks are capable of a top speed of 140kph and have been produced completely by China. The fact that all research and development was handled by the Chinese provides a strong indication of the investment the nation is making in sustainable future technologies.
This is the first example of China’s green-vehicle prowess, however. Over the last several years, the Western press has regularly carried articles that point towards the Chinese eco-car industry eventually supplanting the position of Detroit in the world’s auto industry.
Back in 2009, China’s strategy to turn the nation into a top producer of all-electric and hybrid vehicles by 2011 was announced. China said it was also planning to become the global leader in electric cars and buses.
Well, it’s 2011 and China certainly seems to be sticking to its original plans. Though Western carmakers have enjoyed the fruits of exploiting Chinese interest in private automobile interest, the Chinese government recently published some draft guidelines intended to prevent foreign investors taking control of the country’s nascent (though already sizeable) eco-car industry.
In April, the Chinese Development and Reform Commission released its draft guidelines. Under the rules, foreign investors are not allowed to hold more than 50 per cent of investment in specified electric vehicle component technologies.
The guidelines define the different components concerned. They also define the performance metrics any component manufacturer hoping to supply the Chinese market are required to meet. Though China has a history of issuing draft guidelines for feedback and amendment, these particular guidelines appear to be aimed primarily at ensuring foreign companies understand that China’s eco-car industry is to remain China’s.