Car revolution entering second half: Chinese EV expert

Electric vehicles have grown in popularity as the world is pushing for net-zero carbon emissions.

Electric vehicles have grown in popularity as the world is pushing for net-zero carbon emissions. Hong Kong engineering scientist C.C. Chan, an expert in electric cars, believed it is time for the car revolution to move to a new phase.

"The first half is electrification, it is now time for it to enter the second half, with the car chip and operating system being the core technologies," Chan said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

In the future, cars will be transformed from a traditional means of transportation to an intelligent mobile travel space, realizing the integration of networks of transportation, energy, information and culture, he said.

Chan is an honorary professor of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Hong Kong, and also the founding president of the World Electric Vehicle Association. In 1997, he was elected an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the first person in Hong Kong.

It has been more than 40 years since Chan started to focus his research on electric cars and he is among the pioneers of this technology.

In March, Chan was presented Touching China Award 2022, an annual award to recognize the country's most inspiring role model in different aspects, in recognition of his prominent contribution to electric machines, power systems and electric vehicles.

"Engineering research emphasizes on outcomes," Chan said, stressing the importance of transforming research and development (R&D) outcomes into products in electric car engineering.

Now, electric cars are closely related to people's daily travel, scientists should not only focus on breakthroughs in R&D, but also consider the market demand and acceptance, Chan said, adding that only in this way can R&D move forward.

In 1993, Chan designed his first electric car "U2001", with "U" meaning "united" and "2001" meaning "looking forward to the 21st century." The car adopted integrated power, a high-energy battery and an intelligent driving assistance system, with an acceleration of 6.3 seconds per 100 km, a maximum speed of 110 km/h and a cruising range of 180 km.

The seasoned scientist has been extremely diligent in his scientific research and he excelled in it. He aspired to serve the motherland with his talents at an early age.

"If you lag behind, you will be beaten," Chan said, "I deeply felt the fate of an individual is closely linked with the country."

Chan was born in 1937 to a Chinese entrepreneur family in Indonesia. In 1953, at the age of 16, he went to Beijing to study electrical engineering. Later, he furthered his studies at the University of Hong Kong, from which he received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1982. Since then he stayed on to engage in teaching and research on electric vehicles.

Chan creatively integrated automobile, motor, control and other technologies into a new interdisciplinary study, laying a foundation for the modern electric vehicle theory.

At the same time, he has made outstanding contributions to the innovation of electric vehicle batteries, electronic control systems and other core technologies, becoming the navigator of China's electric vehicle technology.

Chan, 86, has a quick mind and excellent memory and is well aware of the momentous course of China's scientific and technological development.

"I summed up three unprecedented, which are the country's urgent demand for science and technology, the country's care and expectation toward scientists, and the opportunities for scientists to contribute to the country and the world," he explained.

China's 14th Five-Year Plan explicitly supports Hong Kong's development as an international innovation and technology hub. A series of policies to support the development of science and technology in Hong Kong have been introduced in recent years.

Chan suggested that Hong Kong is strong in basic research but relatively weak in application. It can work with other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and make deep connections with them.

He pointed out that each city in the Greater Bay Area has its own advantages. Shenzhen, for instance, has a large number of innovation enterprises, while Dongguan has a complete supporting processing system.

"To further enhance the overall competitiveness of science and innovation in the Greater Bay Area, it is necessary to establish a scientific research ecological chain, focusing on resource sharing and strengthening collaboration," Chan said.

Chan has been busy preparing his speech for a science forum about the Greater Bay Area which will be held later this month, where he will continue to share his idea of car revolution.

"Scientists are to find out the laws of nature for the benefit of mankind. In scientific research, we need forward-thinking, "he said. "When we find the right direction, we must stick to it until the last minute."

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