vtg_1.jpgAuto components supplier Honeywell (famous for Garrett turbos) have signed an MoU with ChangAn Automotive for the two companies to jointly develop micro-turbochargers. Honeywell’s definition of micro-turbochargers are small turbochargers designed for use with two-cylinder or three-cylinder engines, especially diesel engines, designed to make those engines more driveable when installed in low cost and fuel efficient compact cars.

The Chinese government have called for car manufacturers to produce more energy-efficent vehicles and equipping cars with downsized force inducted engines are one way to increase a car’s efficiency. China has recently announced a government subsidy scheme where the government will subsidise up to 50,000 yuan (RM25.8k) for hybrid cars and up to 60,000 yuan (RM31k) for electric cars.

There are currently only 5 vehicles on this list with more being evaluated and added soon – the IVECO electric service vehicle, JAC’s electricity engineering electric vehicle for city electricity system maintenance and repairing, Zotye’s electric light bus, BYD’s F3DM hybrid car and JMC Transit’s electric service vehicle. 4 out of 5 are commercial vehicles, and with the huge manufacturing/industrial sectors in China perhaps its for the best that these vehicles get plenty of attention.

BYD F3DM

BYD is really quite happy about this as they’re the only consumer passenger sedan that qualifies for the subsidy so far. BYD confirms that their F3DM qualifies for the full 50,000 yuan subsidy, and the car will officially go on sale beginning September. The F3DM is a plug-in hybrid which means that even though it is a hybrid, it can be recharged through a wall plug, thus you may never really need to start up its combustion engine if you use it for short trips.

BYD is becoming a big brand when it comes to green tech in China. It recently won a contract to supply fellow chinese automaker SAIC with lithium ion batteries. Its li-ion batteries are based on iron phosphate and are self-developed. BYD claims they can be recharged over 2,000 times and have an estimated lifespan of over 600,000km. Warren Buffet should definitely be happy about all of this – analysts estimate his Berkshire Hathaway’s investment in BYD has already made 430% in just under a year.

In Malaysia all that we have to encourage more efficient vehicles are the prospect of saving on road tax costs and a temporary rebate on hybrid vehicles under 2.0 litres in displacement. When the new NAP review is announced by the end of September this year, we will see if there is anything regarding green technology. There are currently only two hybrid cars on sale in Malaysia through official channels – the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius.

Most of you will be waiting for any indication of lower car prices but while MITI says import duties for ASEAN countries would be removed from January 1st 2010, it has hinted that we could potentially not see any kind of reduction in car prices that can make an impact in our buying experiences as vehicle prices are “subject to market forces which are influenced by factors such as the price of local and imported (CKD) components, forex, transportation cost, insurance and interest rates.”