Mr. Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology of China, disturbed Jeff Chamberlain. Before returning to Beijing, Minister Wan Gang made a request, hoping to visit two places-Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and a factory near Detroit, Michigan. Argonne is one of the United States federal research institutions, located in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Speaking of that factory, General Motors (General Motors for short) is testing the world’s first new electric car Volt there. Chamberlain kept poking the book with his finger, chanting that Minister Wan Gang was not only here for the visit this time. He has a mission and wants to have more exchanges with Chamberlain’s team of experts. The scientists of this team belong to the battery department of Argonne and are managed by Chamberlain. They invented a breakthrough lithium-ion battery technology dedicated to Volt. Chamberlain can be sure that Minister Wan Gang hopes to learn from Argonne’s scientific research results. However, Chamberlain does not seem to want to share. He said that the “war” kicked off-it was a “battery war”. He was right.
In the summer of 2010, Minister Wan Gang came to Argonne, full of energy, humble and polite. A senior U.S. Department of Energy official accompanied him and his entourage on a bus and began to visit the Argonne National Laboratory. Minister Wan Gang asked a series of questions and also shared some of his own observations and feelings. “We are trying to use waste gas from waste to produce oxyfuel,” he said. “It’s only half the cost of gasoline.” His remarks aroused the interest of battery research experts on the scene. Minister Wan Gang himself is a materials scientist and has obtained many scientific and technological achievements. Along the way, he had frank exchanges with his American counterparts. He did not explicitly mention the nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) compound-which is the core of the Volt automotive battery technology invented by Argonne. In addition, his personal development experience is also worth mentioning. Minister Wan Gang has lived in rural areas around Shanghai since he was a child, and his family is ordinary. He remembered being hungry and still driving a tractor to plow the fields. It was the only car he had driven at that time. Since then, he has done a series of research work and entered the Clausthal University of Technology in Germany to study for a doctorate. After obtaining his doctorate, he joined the German Audi automobile company. He first served as Audi’s engineer and later as design manager at Audi’s electric car factory in Stuttgart-a prestigious position. He worked at Audi for 11 years. Once, one of his tutors from Tongji University visited this factory, and the tutor suggested that Wan Gang should contribute more to the development of China’s electric vehicle industry. After Wan Gang returned to his motherland, the state leaders hoped that he would formulate a national electric vehicle development plan and develop China into the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer. Since 2007, Wan Gang has served as Minister of Science and Technology, becoming the first minister with the status of a democratic party since the 1950s. Minister Wan Gang shoulders the high expectations of national leaders. The outside world generally believes that, taking into account China’s national conditions, Minister Wan Gang will fulfill his mission and achieve his goals. Therefore, the Americans felt uneasy again after showing their kindness to him.
Minister Wan Gang attended the welcome banquet held on the terrace of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the night before visiting Agung. At that time, he was tasting a small prawn, and an American recognized him and walked to him. Minister Wan Gang seems to have been waiting for this occasional opportunity for communication. He finished his last bite and handed the plate to his assistant. “Can we talk over there?” He pointed to the cafe next to him and said. Then, the two chatted some private topics. When talking about automobiles, Minister Wan Gang said that he agreed with the claim that there is a competition among various industrial countries. These countries are determined to create an excellent new battery to promote the mass production of electric vehicles. Everyone just came to the same destination by different routes. Minister Wan Gang did not say directly that China will be the winner, but he cited several statistics that symbolize progress. He said, “The primary goal is to capture the first 1% market share,” specifically referring to 150,000 electric vehicles on the road in China. “That will prove the value of this technology. Based on this, it will not be difficult for the market share to reach 10% in 3-4 years.” His initial goal was to sell 500,000 cars (this is the same as Barack Obama’s setting for the United States. The target is similar), and the target for 2015 is 1 million vehicles. This scale should not be underestimated. However, some people think that these data are bluffs. Bi Jing, both China and the United States want to use data to deter competitors.
The next morning, Minister Wan Gang and several colleagues from the United States organized activities one after another walked into a conference room in Argonne. A senior scientist named Al Schattelberg first began to make a report. He was playing slides on two large screens. In the meantime, Minister Wan Gang interrupted his report.
“You have made extraordinary achievements in this field,” he said, “So, today I have a lot of questions to ask you.”
“Because of this, I was so nervous that I was sweating.” Shuttleberg responded.
The meeting room burst into laughter. In fact, most of the people who are sweating are Americans. Argonne has formidable scientific and technological talents and inventions, such as the US patent for breakthrough NMC technology. It has achieved three ambitious goals, including making the Volt range up to 40 miles, rapid acceleration, and achieving the first two goals at the same time. Will not catch fire suddenly. However, despite recent achievements, the United States is still far behind its competitors. Japan and South Korea have more than ten years of manufacturing experience in this field, and they control two-thirds of the global market share of consumer batteries such as AA and AAA, as well as the lithium-ion technology used in smartphones. Therefore, these two countries enjoy the unique advantage of verifying or eliminating new technologies through the testing ground of factories. Most successful inventions are first tried repeatedly by consumers to verify the feasibility of whimsical ideas, and then tested in factories-this is what Japan and South Korea do, otherwise these inventions will be doomed to be forgotten. Today, China has also adopted this method, and the Chinese government has issued a regulation requiring more than 20 companies to launch new energy vehicles within 2-3 years. Under the guidance of this regulation, Chinese automakers such as BYD, Chery and Geely have launched trial electric vehicles one after another. In the future, China plans to produce 1 million electric vehicles and is doing its best to achieve this goal. This approach makes the United States and other competitors inferior. Chinese leaders have made many similar achievements. Jeff Chamberlain was anxious about this.