GM made a couple of big EV announcements in the past couple weeks. The automobile giant announced on Thursday that it had opened a global research center in China. The research center’s focus is on electric vehicles. The company “hopes to take advantage of the country’s vast supply of engineering graduates to drive its development of a new generation of electric vehicles,” a Reuters report noted.
Of course, automobile ownership and growth is also growing at an incredible clip in the largest nation in the world. I imagine that might have also played a small part in the matter. But given that this is a research center, the focus is likely what was reported, tapping the engineering talent there. It was noted in the Reuters article that China produces more science and engineering graduates than any other country in the world.
Not just any other country, but actually several of the top competitors combined! “There’s tremendous people capability in China with more science and engineering graduates than the U.S., Japan, and Germany combined,” said John Du, a director of the new center.
“China now ranks first in the world in the number of PhD candidates, and these are talents we want to attract into the GM R&D and engineering workforce. Not just to develop product for China market.”
“This center plays a critical role in GM’s global R&D, engineering and design network,” said Jon Lauckner, the U.S. car maker’s global technology chief.
The buzzword the new research center is centered around is “new energy,” but Reuters notes that that is “a Chinese codeword for heavily electrified technology that powers all-electric battery cars and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”
Eventually, 25 engineers, researchers, and designers are supposed to work at the facility.
Good on GM, and good on China for attracting the center through its strong focus on research and on electric vehicle development.
Notably, beyond China, some of the other leading countries for electric vehicle technology are right next door, another reason for its location. “It makes sense because Northeast Asia – Japan, South Korea and China – is the world’s major hub for advanced electric car battery research,” Zhang said. “(Some of) the companies leading the world in battery development are based in Korea and Japan, so it makes sense for us to do this work in China with its close proximity to both of those countries and their leading edge suppliers in this field,” Du said.
Sail Springo EV
About a week before the above announcement, GM unveiled the Sail Springo EV at the Guangzhou Auto Show in China. This is the first EV developed by Shanghai General Motors.
“The car, which is being co-developed by Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), will be priced at the equivalent of about $40,000 US, though buyers may be able to knock that down by about $16,000 between incentives from the central Chinese and local Shanghai governments,” Autoblog Green notes.
“As far as performance, the Sail Springo will deliver about 113 horsepower and will be able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 10 seconds. Top speed is about 80 miles per hour, if you’re into that sort of thing. And the car will take about seven hours to recharge from a 220-volt charging station.”