I am amazed, that 财经郎眼 I used to enjoy so much which kept me on tap with China's economic progress and debates, is nowadays plagued with a BS culture and discussion pattern that I have witnessed, criticized, hated (no I don't hate this program, just the cliche amplified by this 11/6/2017 episode on 新能源车 变革未来.)
Where should I even start? The topic was about a new Chinese policy that is to obsolete gasoline car and promote electric cars. What bugs me is the fact that no one, I mean no one, on the show and involved in this discussion said anything about efficiency of energy conversion. They all stated the easy opinions, environment protection, green life, obsoleting old technology (and really!? who said, or proved, that gasoline car is an old technology? Isn't it again stated with an underline assumption of mature technology?), and how we, China, could yet again lead the next wave in technology, and automobile has long been seen as the symbol of the start of America's industrial dominance — the high gear version of a terrible system called capitalism. So we could lead the march to a new form of automobile, wow, that's like another God's sign posted on the side of the road says, "yes you are the one, you are made to replace America as #1. Look, you are replicating his success! so that must be on the right path."
Geee!!! Come on people! When you are so hung up on the idea that critical path to success in electric car is battery technology, and throwing in a few lines that government should step in to build infrastructure so there is charging station available for drivers' convenience, it pisses me off in a number degrees beyond frustration.
battery's power is not, free
First of all, yes battery is the critical path. But no, let's take one step further on this → the key issue here is not about battery vs. gasoline, it is electricity vs. gasoline. In other words, it is really a comparison of two super duper complicated industries:
- power station + transmission + battery + engine
- oil + transmission + combustion + engine
So to comprehend the benefit (or con) of either side, one needs to consider the whole nine yard of electricity generation from coal, hydraulic power, wind, solar, nuclear, to a heated water pump that drives a GIANT engine in an power plant, all the way to that little tiny bit locked inside your battery, versus a completly similiar breakdown of technology chain but using, transporting a different material. If you ever study high school physics, energy is constant, just different form.
People are talking about the power stored in battery as if it came for free!! Nuts! The electrical power came from somewhere, and there is a cost associate with it, and I'm not talking about the cost of $0.50 per watt you pay on your electricity bill, I'm talking about this industrial supply chain that convert a raw material to a form that will drive the wheels. So really, regardless which material to choose from, it's the efficiency of this chain matters, not the last link of battery!
In other words, if you suck in the current chain (which, as matter of fact, is a lot mature than the one you are proposing), then your odds of doing well in the new chain is pretty slim, too.
Even to the extent of these people's favourate argument to support electric car — green. Well, the true comparison has to be an aggregation of power station pollution versus. oil refinery pollution, for the least. And you know what, don't we all agree that both are nasty, equally evil, industry, that no one wants to have it in his backyard!? If so, how can you just throw in a buzz word (again, I hate people using buzz word like this!) and think all the old problems would now go away!? No, they will not go away, unless you address them diligently and efficiently. Otherwise, I can bet that you are just swapping one set of problems with another, just that the other set you don't know much about yet ← this is truly an example of the happiness of the ignorance!
Second, can you just drop the fantasy of the 中国玩法!? This is absolutely a conspiracy theory now that just because the US and Europe lead the technology race (as of today), so anything business model or standard or theory must be inherently bad for China, so and so that China has to control its own destiny by leveraging their lust for its market to come up a new game rule!? Does it make you feel safe now!? Really, I can understand in many levels why a country wants to do that, but one should also admit there are fundamental principles that apply to all human, all societies. I seriously wonder that rolling back a few hundred years should China also acclaim that its gravity is very different from 9.8 thus Newton's laws just don't apply!? Get a grip! There is a reason why western is leading the technology race — it had a first mover advantage, of course, but truly it's the attitude of being practical, being critical, and less BS that give them the advantage. Especially when we face the question of efficiency, science, technology, really, there is one set of physics rules that are universally true, and one should continue to challenge it, to test it, to gain better understanding of it so to find out when it falls short. But having a moral cry with excitement that "look, the new Chinese way!", is just fxxxx BS.
I have observed this pattern many times over that is crazily prevalent in China and its elite circle these days. I call it the view of being a competitor rather than being a contributor. China elites keep thinking in term of a race and competition in which winner takes it all. They should instead think how their experiments and trials could help to eliminate unknown path and to contribute to the pool of this overall interesting, seemingly beneficial, and humanely progressive topic. If they truly believe in the future of a wide adoption of this technology that can make people's life better, they should be extremely critical of its risk and problems, because if you truly care about people, you don't see shinning $$ signs or benefits written all over, you see how painful and struggling someone's life can be affected, and how agonizing that will be to one's soul, to yours.
Leave government alone
Last, the baby cry that government should step in to do this, do that. I think any idea is going to fly if the government steps in to build an infrastructure for you, to eliminate tax, to ban all your competitors, and so on.... this is baby talk! Chinese business people are not entrepreneurs at all, they want government backup for EVERYTHING! Who doesn't like a risk free business!? I know I will. But then, don't label yourself pioneer, or business man, or innovator... you are not! You are not even a follower. You just want both, 当了婊子还要立牌坊, disgusting! Put those charging stations as a sunk cost on your budget sheet, if you have one, factor in tax benefits and potential loss, hone in your development and production to make quality, efficient product, fight your competitors till one is dead, and accept a lost battle with grace and regrets that there were many many points you could have done better, differently, that may have changed the outcome. Then, if given a chance, try again, if that's still your passion to do. But mixing your grand, wonderful business plan with a line saying government should have prepared the stage for me... well, then I already know you will point a finger to the government also when it doesn't work. It's just convenient, and honestly, you didn't believe this so called great stuff yourself either, you just want to profit off others' belief. Shame.
— by Feng Xia