Cars That Don’t Look Like Cars

July 13th, 2009
A tractor for the road?

A tractor for the highway?

China is hosting something called the International Electric Vehicle & Clean Energy Vehicle Exhibition, and some photos have leaked. We’ll show you a few here and tell you what we know about the show. Reuters published a video script (I can’t find the actual video), which says in part:

More than 50 Chinese clean car and battery makers gathered in Beijing on Monday (July 13) to showcase their latest models to potential buyers, as China’s government vows to take the lead in the electric car industry.

Beijing unveiled a plan earlier this year to subsidize the purchase of clean-energy vehicles for public transport in 13 cities to help its automobile industry develop green technology.

The trial scheme will promote the use of electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles by public transport operators, taxi firms and postal and sanitary services.

At the car show, in addition to buses, taxis and police cars, car makers debuted some of their latest models for electric family vehicles.

Clean car taillight art

Clean car taillight art

But look at these things! At least you can say the Chinese have tried to turn a new page in car design. Whether or how these things will get on the roads is another question.

Since China has now surpassed the U.S. as world champion greenhouse-gas polluter, its government appears to have recognized the need for cleaner transport, though they still rely on coal to generate most of the country’s energy. They also continually point the finger at the rich countries for their piggish ways.

The EU president pointed her own finger at the Chinese during the opening of global climate talks on the same day the clean car exhibit debuted, saying she expected more from China as well as the developed countries. The show stressed everything from battery technology to fuel cells for buses (subsidies provided for the latter). And, “in order to promote clean cars, local governments were asked to allocate money to build and maintain facilities for green vehicles.”

Clean car with measles

Clean car with measles

There will be subsidies to SAIC, for instance, China’s biggest car company, to produce hybrid and electric cars. And the government plans to provide other means to help its carmakers out of the economic slump and go green.

Why, we ask, doesn’t the U.S. do something similar before we all wake up one morning choking on pollution? How bad do things have to get before the feds and the states take action?

—jgoods

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