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Yez Zero Energy Concept Car Uses No Gas

Credits: ©2010 GizMag

by Mike Hanlon, GizMag - SAIC's Yez concept car is the first automobile, concept or otherwise, that's ever been conceived to have a negative carbon footprint. That is, it removes more pollution than it creates. SAIC is an acronym for Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation and is a name almost no-one outside China has heard before, yet last year it slipped quietly into the top ten manufacturers of automobiles in the world. SAIC owns 50 percent of China's leading car producer, Shanghai Volkswagen, and 51 percent of the second largest producer, Shanghai General Motors. It is currently seeking to increase its stake in the three-way GM-SAIC-Wuling joint venture that sold more than a million minivans in 2009. Using a combination of power sources such as mains power, the sun and wind, the Yez also employs some very novel technologies such as photoelectric conversion (man-made photosynthesis), making the Yez akin to a leaf in the good deeds it performs for a choking global environment. Yez is a construct of a Mandarin word that means “leaf.”


Yez Car Solar and Wind

The Yez Concept Car uses a combination of power sources such as mains power, the sun and the wind. ©2010 SAIC

So the Yez is a landmark automobile concept. It also comes from somewhere we're not accustomed to seeing concept vehicles come from – China, a land with more people than anywhere else, unparalleled growth for a large country, and the largest quantity of realistic optimism the world has ever seen. There are some massive changes afoot in the automotive industry and they all surround the extrapolation of China’s remarkable rise.

The idea behind the Yez Concept is that it will photosynthesize, absorbing carbon dioxide from surrounding air and emitting oxygen back into the atmosphere. Among the many futuristic aspects of the Yez (Chinese for “leaf” as Nissan already uses the name for a green concept that is heading for production) is a roof that incorporates solar panels and wheels that incorporate small wind turbines to harvest energy from the turbulence and windflow while driving.

Artificial photosynthesis has proven elusive to date, but there's every indication it will be a commercial reality within two decades. In the original write-up of the Yez a few months ago (in GizMag), it was noted that although photosynthesis, solar and wind power were likely to be far more viable twenty years from now, we didn't share SAIC's optimism that the car would “work during both sunny and overcast days”, particularly in beautiful not-so-sunny Shanghai where I've been for the last month and only glimpsed the sun a few times.

The Yez could quite possibly live in your apartment with you. A screen shot from one of the featured movies on the SAIC-GM stand shows a Yez owner, who lives in a high-rise apartment, walk to the edge of his apartment, step into his Yez and begin descending to the road below.

Another glimpse of the Yez from one of the presentations shows the Yez being charged in a parking station, so SAIC obviously has more in store for keeping the Yez full of beans than just solar, photosynthesis and wind power, than it has shared with us at this point.

Like many other vehicles which collect energy from the environment, the Yez is intended to become another node on the electricity grid and share its energy for other purposes too – seemingly by the same interface.

The biggest aspect of the Yez which has not been made public yet are plans to include it in the networked vehicle concept, meaning it will have sensors and GPS functionality and will be capable of running in autonomous mode, of platooning with other cars, or driving you home if you’ve had too much to drink. It has clearly been envisioned as an autonomous vehicle from the outset. It is all part of the ecosystem being envisioned for China by its biggest car companies – which are majority owned by the Chinese Government.


SAIC Motor (China)