Published March 27, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
As you’ve heard before, China wants more electric vehicles, and this week General Motors announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) to manage a fleet of Chevy Volts for data collection purposes.
The MOU covers a one-year period in which CATARC will use and evaluate an undisclosed number of Volts to be delivered next month. The aim is to “to help organize workshops and seminars that will build support among decision makers and key stakeholders for vehicle electrification policy in China,” GM said.
CATARC is the most important third-party automotive technology service organization recognized by the Chinese government. It and GM will form a joint working team to evaluate real world performance, charging and infrastructure for the Volt and other electric vehicles to address needs and expectations by Chinese consumers.
“This partnership is strategically important to us,” said CATARC Director Zhao Hang. “The Volt, with its cutting-edge and practical technologies, will provide information to assist us in preparing the Chinese market for future electrified vehicles.”
Data to be gathered will be from fleet user feedback and is aimed at helping Chinese policymakers make more informed new energy decisions.
GM notes that this strategic decision with CATARC is of value to the global automaker as CATARC is “playing a critical role in the development of new energy vehicles.”
According to Ray Bierzynski, GM China executive director of Electrification Strategy, GM’s relationship with CATARC will provide GM access to top opinion leaders and policymakers.
“It is important for us to offer those in key positions to affect policy an opportunity to experience firsthand our variety of electrification solutions for reducing the automotive industry’s dependence on petroleum,” he said.
GM has recently installed charging poles at Tsinghua University, the office of SAE China, a Chevrolet dealership in Beijing as well as GM’s China headquarters in Shanghai. The company also plans to install charging facilities at CATARC’s Tianjin headquarters.
As the world’s largest auto market, in which GM got an early foothold years ago, China is among the first markets outside of the U.S. home market to receive the Chevy Volt.
We have heard nothing definitive about the Volt being produced there, and GM has for now resisted the notion, choosing instead to build less sophisticated electrified vehicles with its joint venture partners.