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Beijing show: SAIC turns a new Leaf

Green Leaf: Shanghai Automotive's YeZ Leaf electric concept car is no relation to Nissan's Leaf EV.

Radical YeZ ‘Leaf’ concept from China’s biggest car-maker has ‘negative emissions'

19 Apr 2010

CHINA’S biggest car-maker, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), will present a radical YeZ ‘Leaf’ concept at the Beijing motor show this week, extending the boundaries of sustainable transport with a vehicle that can capture CO2 and emit fresh oxygen.

The YeZ joins the EN-V concepts developed in conjunction with alliance partner General Motors (including Holden) in picturing urban transport in 2030, although its electric Leaf – which has nothing in common with the Nissan EV of the same name – is described as a fully independent model from the Chinese auto giant that is designed to run on solar and wind energy.

The concept carries a raft of cutting-edge technologies including “photoelectric conversion” (via a state-of-the-art solar capture system in the leaf-shaped roof), “wind power conversion” (via small wind turbines in the wheels) and “carbon dioxide absorption and conversion” from the bodywork.

While the photoelectric roof simulates natural photosynthesis, capturing CO2 from ambient air and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere, the CO2-absorbing body is equally startling in its ability to absorb CO2.

According to SAIC, the vehicle has a metal-organic framework (MOF) that can absorb carbon dioxide and water molecules in the air and convert them into electrical energy, which in turn recharges the lithium-ion battery that runs the main electric motor.

While its real-world application is still to be tested, the YeZ demonstrates an ability to not only achieve zero-emissions status but also “negative emissions” – in effect, SAIC says, “the air is cleaned, the greenhouse effect is alleviated and the natural environment is improved”.

78 center imageLeft: The SAIC YeZ Leaf's solar roof. Below: The Astra-based Buick Excelle.

SAIC’s technical centre chief Liu Qihua added: “We hope that it is possible for man, vehicle and nature to blend into one by 2030, and achieve a truly harmonious co-existence between man and nature.” The YeZ concept has emerged as SAIC and its affiliates (including GM and Volkswagen) reveal more concrete plans to increase sales in the world’s largest car market, with GM – which is the largest foreign car-maker in China – planning to introduce 25 new or updated models there by the end of 2011.

These will include the Volt plug-in hybrid, while the Beijing show is also expected to host world premieres of a small people-mover using Volt technology, along with a redesigned Buick Excelle small car based on the Opel/Vauxhall Astra hatch, which shares GM’s Delta II architecture with the Chevrolet/Holden Cruze.

Volkswagen is presenting its facelifted Phaeton limousine at the Beijing show, among other models, while SAIC is also expected to present its first in-house-developed hybrid car based on its Roewe 750 sedan. The 750 is based on the previous Rover 75, which SAIC has owned the rights to since it purchased the MG and Rover brands in 2005.

According to a Reuters report last week, SAIC also plans to roll out a plug-in hybrid compact car in 2012, based on the Roewe 550.

SAIC sold 2.73 million vehicles in 2009, up 57.2 per cent, for a market share of 19.9 per cent. It aims to sell more than three million vehicles in 2010, having recorded more than 890,000 sales in the first quarter (up 63 per cent on 2009).

Earlier this month, SAIC Motor said it had achieved a first-quarter net profit that more than quadruples the result over the same period in 2009.

The company is due to release specific figures on April 29, with news of the profit coming from a statement filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange. In the first quarter of 2009, SAIC posted a net profit of around $A92 million.

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