General Motor's Joint-Venture partner in China, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) rolled out a concept alongside GM's EN-V at Expo 2010 which in many ways is more ground-breaking than the EN-V. 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 clever 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 environment. And if you think this is not within reach by 2030, think again – artificial photosynthesis has proven elusive, but there's every indication it will be a commercial reality within two decades.

SAIC and GM share an impressive pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai and as with many World Expos prior to this one, the share and functionality of what we'll be driving 20 plus years is being envisioned on the General Motors stand. GM first participated in a world Expo in 1931 and its futuristic visions are this time set in the year 2030.

So although we're totally sold on the EN-V, we also acknowledge that the functionality of the YeZ is probably going to be more than viable twenty years from now, albeit without SAIC's optimism that the car won't need to be plugged in. Not much info has been made available in the YeZ, but SAIC claims it will “work during both sunny and overcast days while also being able to leverage wind power”, enabling “mobility with zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

Unless solar panel efficiency evolves massively in the next two decades, we expect the YeZ will have a regular appointment at the powerpoint, but heh, that isn't all that bad. At least when you're producing bulk electricity in one spot, you're able to ensure the resultant emissions are appropriately handled.

We're on GM's case to get more detail on the story, and will report further on the YeZ in the near future.

Update – full press release below plus more pics in the gallery.

SAIC Press Release

SAIC-made concept vehicle “YeZ” made its amazing global premiere at the SAIC-GM pavilion

The concept vehicle “YeZ”, which was independently developed by SAIC, made its world debut at the SAIC-GM Pavilion on the media day, April 11, 2010.

Incorporating into itself such natural energy converting technological concepts as photoelectric conversion, wind power conversion and carbon dioxide absorption and conversion, the electric powered “YeZ” became the focus of attention in the auto pavilion. By virtue of its outstanding concepts of “energy conversion” and “negative emission”, during the Expo “YeZ” will be put on display in the low carbon area of the Chinese National Pavilion as a representative of China's new energy vehicles, inspiring people to continuously explore for clean and sustainable new automotive energies.

A breakthrough in the environmental protection concept Since the convocation of the Copenhagen Conference on Global Climate, people have paid much more attention to how to achieve sustainable economic development on the “green and low carbon” basis.

SAIC Group has been actively advocating the green environmental concept whereby man, vehicle and Nature co-exist and develop in a harmonious manner.

The research and development of the concept vehicle “YeZ” is just a manifestation of SAIC Group's social responsibility.
 The designing inspiration of “YeZ” comes from people's good wish that means of transport, such as buses, cars, etc. might incorporate itself into the urban ecological environment, and breathe together with Nature and return to Nature. “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,” Dr. Liu Qihua of SAIC's Shanghai Automotive Technical Center said to the journalist.

Innovative energy conversion technology The design of the concept vehicle “YeZ” takes electricity as its main source of power, and the technical core is the natural energy conversion technology, which includes the photoelectric conversion technology, wind power conversion technology and carbon dioxide absorption and conversion technology.

The huge leaf on the roof of the “YeZ” is an efficient photoelectric converter, which absorbs solar energy and converts it into electricity, and is able to show the flow of energy by means of visible “veins”. What is worth mentioning in particular is the solar tracking system, where the solar crystal films on the leaf are able to rotate towards the sun for higher efficiency of solar energy collection. The bio-based features enable the “YeZ” to co-exist with Nature harmoniously. The four wheels of the “YeZ” are four wind power generators. Dissipated wind power is captured and converted into electric power, which is filled and stored into the vehicle battery to become an ancillary electric driving system, and thus new energy is made full use of to the maximum.

The body of the “YeZ” is made of MOFs, which is able to absorb carbon dioxide. Simulating green plants, it captures carbon dioxide and water molecules in the air, releases electrons under the action of microorganisms, and generates electric current. The bio-fuel cell then recharge the lithium battery with the generated electricity, and the vehicle is driven by electric motor. In addition, it is also able to convert via the laser generator the high concentration carbon dioxide which is discharged during photoelectric conversion into electricity for vehicular lighting, or into vehicular A/C refrigerant. This helps to achieve not only “zero emission”, but also “negative emission”, so that the air is cleaned, the green house effect is alleviated and the natural environment is improved.

“YeZ”, harmony between vehicle and Nature The coming into being of the concept vehicle “YeZ” redefines the relationship between vehicle and Nature that vehicle constitutes a link in the natural cycle chain, and depicts a wonderful scene of harmonious coexistence between vehicle and Nature.

The “YeZ” hopes to provide people with means of travel that is more environmentally friendly, whereby cities will no longer be troubled by vehicle emissions and consumption of fuel or energy. Vehicles running on entirely new energies, such as fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles, render cities cleaner, the air fresher and the sky bluer than ever before.

As if it were a mobile plant, the “YeZ” breathes and co-exists with Nature. It will be a major highlight in the “Green Expo”. The “YeZ” will be used by man to protect Nature today, to coexist with Nature and development the world more economically, and to write the traffic chapter in more harmonious languages. It is learned that the concept vehicle “YeZ” will be put on display in the SAIC-GM Pavilion during the Expo. Visitors from all over the world will be able to experience in the auto pavilion the clean and pollution-free environment brought about by new energy technologies, and get to know SAIC's latest R&D development in the application of new energies, as well as the exploration of automotive traffic tendency.

As an active practitioner in industrializing new energy vehicles in China, SAIC Motor will provide Expo 2010 with almost a thousand new energy vehicles, including pure electric vehicles, super capacitor vehicles, fuel cell vehicles and hybrid vehicles. The application and demonstration of nearly a thousand new energy vehicles will become a major highlight of the Shanghai World Expo 2010. Operation of high intensity and for a long time is very demanding to the Expo new energy vehicles on their safety, reliability and riding comfort. In accordance with the requirements for vehicle running during the Expo, SAIC Motor has developed and manufactured new energy vehicles that are reliable in performance and leading in technology, so as to help the Expo achieve the green traffic objective of “zero emission in the Expo Sites and low emission around them”.