U of W-Chinese auto research agreement a ‘big deal’

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Windsor Star/Grace Macaluso

The University of Windsor  has signed  a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government to explore the potential market in North America for Chinese-made electric vehicles, Tony Faria, co-director of the Office of Automotive and Vehicle Research, said Thursday.

The agreement,  which calls for a research budget of at least $300,000,  also includes Auto21 Network of Centres of Excellence and the faculty of electrical engineering, said Faria.

The research would be conducted for the China Machinery Industry Federation and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade — Automotive Branch, said Faria. “It’s in the early stages, but they want us to explore the opportunity for them to bring Chinese-made electric vehicles into North America.”

The research would look at what features would be necessary for consumers  to embrace Chinese-made electric vehicles, said Faria.

“It would be a tough sell,” he admitted. “Right now, electric vehicles, themselves, are a tough sell because of the cost, range limitations and availability of charging stations.”

According to statistics compiled by HybridCars.com, plug-in electric and battery-electric vehicles made up less than one per cent of the more than 8.1 million vehicles sold so far this year in the United States.

Chinese auto companies, such as BYD, have yet to crack the North American market, he said, adding that the vehicles are not up to North American standards. “It’s the reason Chinese  vehicles can’t be found in western Europe, the  U.S. or Canada. That’s what they will have to accomplish if their vehicles are going to be sold here.” [Read More]