Beijing to become a paradise for electric vehicle sales

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I often wondered why Chinese auto makers would push forth with their electric and hybrid concepts at auto shows, its not as if there is a huge market for them in China, from China Car Times own articles you can easily see that sales are rather weak, this article states that only 54 hybrid and new energy vehicles were sold between January and October 2010, but BYD cleared sales of 74 BYD F3DM’s in March which goes some way to showing that the market is improving somewhat for hybrid vehicles and China seems to be slowly moving away from the No Demand for Hybrids in China headlines.

Yesterday morning I received an email from The Truth About Cars Bertel Schmit, he wanted me to join his campaign to persuade the Beijing government to offer free license plates to EV buyers in a bid to boost the local car market. Beijing killed its local car market this year after nearly 800,000 cars took to dusty capitals roads in 2010, for 2011 the government offered just 20,000 license plates per month that could be gained via a lottery. Of the 20,000 lucky winners in January, just 2000 people went on to buy a car, they do of course have three months to buy a car before their license plate ticket gets thrown back into the pool. What Bertel didn’t realize is that just as he posted his plans for free license plates for EV buyers in Beijing, is that the Beijing Municipal Govt announced the very next morning that they were going to do exactly what Bertel was suggesting.

Beijing has announced that its ’125 Project’ has already received official approval and will begin the creation of a strategically important electric car industry within the capital.

The ’125 project’ was initiated by Beijing Automotive Industry Organisation and was quickly approved by Beijing Municipal Economic and Reform Council, by 2015 the production of electric cars in Beijing is to reach the 100,000 units per year barrier.

According to what we have learned so far, pure electric vehicles, (EV’s) are to become the major benefactor from the new plan. Beijing’s own local manufacturers such as Foton and Beijing Auto are expected to gain the most from the new plans, as both of these companies already have electric vehicles ready to role. Foton has introduced its Midi electric van into the market as a taxi and BAIC are planning to launch electric variants of their Saab based products and also the C30 hatchback. (BAIC actually has the following electric vehicles in development: Q60FB、C30DB、701EV、C71EV)

The biggest news is obviously for the end consumer, instead of dreaming about getting the much coveted Beijing tin plate for their gasoline based car they will be able to buy the EV straight off the shelf without having to wait in line for a lottery, they wont be subjected to the odd/even license plate restrictions that Beijing has introduced and more importantly they wont have to pay sales tax on their EV – the biggest kicker of all will be the 120,000rmb subsidy that Beijing is offering to buyers of electric vehicles.

Why the absence of hybrids in this plan? It appears that Beijing Govt is wise to Chinese automakers and their attempts to roll out mild hybrids, essentially cars with larger than normal alternators that allow for stop and start systems, Beijing is clearly looking to jump the hybrid generation and go straight for the EV jugular.

So will the EV sales begin to fly in Beijing? Not quite so fast, there is still a severe lack of showroom ready EV’s, you cannot walk into a dealership yet and buy the BYD E6 or the Riich M1 EV or any of the other Chinese made EV’s as of yet.

About the author  ⁄ Ash

Ash came to China at 18 and never looked back, a decade later he is still here. After a 4 year stint in a Chinese University where he gained a double BA in Chinese and International Trade he worked for a myriad of different companies in the Chinese Auto industry before heading back to school to get an MBA with a focus in marketing.


  • Gerald
    April 11, 2011

    Interesting that so few lottery winners have actually gone on to buy a car. One reason may be the lack of good deals on new cars. It may see counter-intuitive given the situation, but I’ve been told that rather than offering steep discounts, dealerships/manufacturers are taking a wait-and-see approach. Also, the result gas price hikes and huge hike in parking feels is no doubt making some potential buyers think twice.

    The news about the 125 Project is positive. With this kind of government support, EV’s will surely take off here.

  • dragin
    April 11, 2011

    “…both of these companies (Foton and BAW)already have electric vehicles ready to role.”

    I don’t think BAW will have an EV ready to roll for quite awhile. It has yet to put a sedan into volume production.
    Instead companies like BYD, Zotye, and BAIC- Hyundai could be the greater benefactors. That is if regional protectionism doesn’t play a part.

  • Greg
    April 12, 2011

    Is there anywhere that I can read more about the 125 project? It’s very exciting and I would like to read the original announcement if possible, but searching online I have only found articles copying this one.

  • Stuck At 100 Miles
    April 12, 2011

    Most of these pure Electric Vehicles will only go 100 miles before stopping, don’t operate in cold wet damp weather very good. Have problems with temperature extremes whether very hot or very cold. Then the infrastructure is NOT in place to go from Beijing to Shanghai, cause you’ll run out of fuel first… Can’t make it between 2 big cities forget going to the countryside.. you’ll be stuck waiting for a gas or diesel powered tow vehicle to pick you up.

  • Bob
    May 13, 2011

    That’s good news. Let’s hope that more cities in Shanghai do follow. Of course in the end EV’s are partly coal-fired. however it does help local emissions if there are more Ev’s downtown. The E-bikes and E-scooters are already much nicer than 2- or 4-stroke stinkers

  • dragin
    May 13, 2011

    You are right Greg. Info on the so-called “125 project” is hard to come by. Maybe CCT could enlighten us a bit more.

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