China is often touted as the savior of the green car industry with the majority of car manufacturers working on the development of electric cars, it seems that many of these projects may just be to win foreign investment and governmental support to gain greater access to markets. The Chinese market for new energy vehicles appears to be rather flat judging by the below figures.
The Chinese government at both national and local level have been eager to offer subsidies to green car buyers, Shanghai, Changchun, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Hefei all became national government appointed test cities for the introduction of new energy vehicles and generous subsidies were made available to personal buyers, other cities introduced their own subsidies in a bid to get Chinese drivers green motoring.
BYD – 350 vehicles
In 2010 BYD sold 350 vehicles, 110 of which were sold to a Shenzhen taxi company (this taxi company is actually partly owned by BYD), the first ten were put into action straight away, another 50 were added later and another 50 are due to be added to the fleet soon. BYD has two models available, the E6 and the F3DM.
According to one report it seems that the taxi company is having difficulty in several areas with the E6′s, the high cost of the car is off putting and is 3 to 4 times more expensive to purchase than a tradition taxi, the level of maintenance that the cars require, and also a lack of charging stations within Shenzhen.
BYD has sold 54 E6 taxis this year and around 290 F3DM models to taxi fleets.
Chang’an – orders of around 600 cars
Chang’an seems to be playing the ball quite well and on top of Chongqing’s 36,000 subsidy to green car buyers, Chang’an are throwing in discounts of upto 43,000rmb
Chang-an’s sales manager said ‘Chang-an’s new energy cars have already entered the civil service as government cars and appear to be performing well, we have also sold cars to taxi fleets and are seeing improved sales in this area with many cities wishing to buy our taxis. Nanchang City has already bought 60 cars, Kunming has ordered 50 more units, Chongqing has bought 20 units and many other cities are following the trend.”
From what we have learned, between January and November 2010, Chang’an delivered 197 new energy vehicles and delivered 212 vehicles, with back orders reaching upto 700 units. Chang’an is expected to put its hybrid vehicles into its B and A sales network meaning that they will be open to regular consumers and not just government and taxi fleets, furthermore the price of the Zhi Xiang hybrid sedan is expected to be low enough for many to afford with fuel savings of 5 to 8%.
Zotye – 30 vehicles
Zotye is one of the smaller players in the Chinese car industry they are also privately owned so do not enjoy the backing of state owned companies. Zotye’s pure electric SUV is selling under a different method in China – battery renting – with Zotye’s system you don’t have to worry about battery life as you can swap them out with Zotye as needed, although the system is still expensive with the cost of batteries at around 2000rmb per month ($302USD). According to Zotye the majority of the 30 buyers are very happy with their cars with the plus points being low cost and great torque but the major drawback being the slow length of charging.
Zotye has the biggest electric car production facility in China so far with the capacity to build 20,000 units. The Zotye SUV is available to personal buyers, but buyers really need to see if they have the ability to charge the car up
FAW-Toyota – 300 units
The Prius has become the symbol of hybrid cars the world over, in the US sales are through the roof whilst in China sales remain low, since its introduction into China the Prius has sold 3000 units, in 2010 it cleared less than 300 units. The second generation is still on sale in China but its unclear if the third generation will make it here.
JAC – 585 vehicles
At the 2010 Guangzhou Auto Show we saw the first Tong Yue pure electric car from JAC, it appears that the JAC have found themselves a sweet spot with this model as the cost of the car is supposedly low but with high performance when compared to other models .
From the above figures and statistics it seems clear that the majority of support for electric cars is coming from city governments and private taxi companies who wish to lower the cost of motoring in the age of high priced gasoline. Regular citizens seem to be avoiding high priced hybrids such as the Prius in favor of low cost pure electrics or self developed hybrids, the market for electric cars remains small in China but the numbers are surely but a starting point. In 2011 we can expect to see more self developed Chinese car companies such as Chery and Geely enter the affray with mild hybrids and pure electric vehicles.