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Beijing prepares for electric age

Subsidised: China's BAIC is ready to launch an all-electric version of its C301 people-mover to take advanatage of generous incentives in Beijing.

Chinese capital set to throw its weight behind EVs as it wrestles with traffic

1 Jun 2011

BEIJING will lead the charge on electric cars in China, providing unrestricted free registration and 60,000 yuan ($A8626) subsidies for battery-powered cars while maintaining strict limits on the numbers of new petrol-powered vehicles allowed on the roads each year.

Worried by the explosion in cars and trucks jamming roads in the Chinese capital, the Beijing municipal government has already introduced a lottery system for conventional car registrations, limited to 20,000 a month, meaning only about one in 20 applicants get a permit to register a vehicle.

But Chinese media reports say electric cars will be exempt from the restrictions under a yet-to-be-announced five-year plan, with Beijing officials reportedly setting a target of 30,000 full EV and plug-in hybrid vehicle private sales by the end of 2012, rising to 100,000 by 2015.

As well, the Beijing municipal government will subsidise up to 30 per cent of the construction cost of charging stations and poles, aiming for 36,000 trickle-charging poles and 100 fast-charging stations, one battery replacement station, two battery recycling points, 10 specialised service stations and two information acquisition and processing stations.

One media report described the moves by the Beijing government as an attempt to turn the city into “a paradise for electric vehicles” by adopting the EV support plan pitched by the Beijing Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

 center imageChinese EVs: (From top) BAIC C71, BYD E6, BYD F3 dual mode.

The timing is good for Beijing’s biggest car-maker – the state-owned Beijing Automobile Industry Holding Company (BAIC) – which is aiming to launch the first of several electric cars based on its new range from later this year.

BAIC, which has joint ventures with Hyundai and Daimler, reportedly will start with a full-electric version of its BC301 people-mover – a Mercedes-Benz B-class lookalike that is BAIC’s first own-brand vehicle.

Two EV versions of the vehicle are said to be under development, to be called C30DB and M30RB.

At least four more full-electric vehicles and one plug-in hybrid are expected to follow from BAIC over the next two to three years, with all built on the superseded Saab 9-5 platform that BAIC bought from the trouble Swedish company in 2009 and now underpins the company’s new range.

ChinaAutoWeb reports that BAIC is planning to expand its green vehicle production capacity to 150,000 vehicles a year by 2015, with EV models ranging from city cars to SUVs.

A fleet of about 30 BAIC electric vehicles have been in the hands of various fleets in Beijing, for real-world testing.

Other Chinese car-makers who are leading the way on EV production, notably BYD, Zotye and Chery, are also reported to be delighted with the new rules which they hope will help propel sales of their vehicles.

Before the restrictions on registrations introduced in January, Beijing’s vehicle population was growing at more than 800,000 vehicles a year.

Apart from the price subsidies and unrestricted access to registration, EV and plug-in hybrid car owners will be free of Beijing’s odd-even number plate driving restrictions.

In Hefei – the home of top-10 Chinese motor company JAC – the Anhui provincial government is planning to roll out 585 JAC electric taxis.

As GoAuto reported last week, the central Chinese government has launched a secret five-year action plan to speed the development of EVs by Chinese companies, subsidizing 77 projects ranging from battery development to vehicle powertrain management systems.

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