General Motors and Shanghai Partner to Build a Hybrid Bus in China
SHANGHAI, China U.S. automaker General Motors Corp. said recently that it will build its first hybrid bus in China next year with its partner in Shanghai to promote the technology for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
GM and Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp. will begin by developing one bus and test running it in Shanghai to see if it would be commercially viable in China, said GM's vice president of Environment & Energy, Elizabeth Lowery.
"We will see if there is opportunity for volume ... if there is an interest in this technology from the government," said Lowery.
The number of vehicles on China's roads is soaring, bringing a growing reliance on imported oil and worsening already severe air pollution.
In response, foreign automakers are beginning to test some of their hybrid vehicles in China.
DaimlerChrysler AG has said it plans to test three hydrogen-fuel-cell buses in Beijing next year, and Toyota Motor Corp. said last month that it will assemble and sell its Prius model, a gasoline-electric hybrid, in China.
Hybrids draw power from two energy sources, typically a gas or diesel engine combined with an electric motor.
"We're starting with the bus because you get the biggest bang for the buck," Phil Murtaugh, chairman of GM's China operations, told reporters.
Although the bus will be built in China with Shanghai Auto, the key technology will not be shared with its China partner, and those parts will be imported from the United States, Lowery said.
According to GM, the buses could help save 40 percent to 60 percent in fuel and reduce some emissions by up to 90 percent.
However, it is unclear if the automakers can persuade the Shanghai government or any other city to purchase expensive hybrid buses.
There are already thousands of natural gas buses on the road in several Chinese cities, and the country has increasing access to natural gas, a cleaner option than diesel or gasoline buses. GM's partner Shanghai Auto also has a program to develop buses with natural gas.
Source: Associated Press