Auto show highlights green concepts
A model poses near a new Intelligent Geely hybrid car at the Beijing Auto Show in Beijing on Friday. China overtook the United States as the world's biggest auto market in terms of number of vehicles sold in 2009, helped by government incentives. Story on page 13. [Photo by Jason Lee/Reuters]
BEIJING - Major auto manufacturers displayed their confidence in the development of green cars in the world's biggest auto market by exhibiting 95 alternative-energy autos among the 990 models at the Beijing auto show, which opened on Friday.
Europe's largest automaker Volkswagen launched an electric vehicle strategy tailored to the China market at the show, promising to start local production of electric vehicles in China between 2013 and 2014.
"As China becomes Volkswagen's most important market around the world, achievement in the electric vehicle segment in China is key to the success of our global electric vehicle strategic vision which we kicked off this March," said Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen.
"The China electric vehicle strategy is the first our group tailor made for a certain country. We plan to equip our BlueMotion Technologies with locally produced products in our two Chinese joint ventures soon," added Winfried Vahland, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group China.
According to Vahland, the German company plans to provide "affordable" electric vehicles with innovative technologies to Chinese consumers through local research and development, sourcing and production.
An electric car exhibited at the Beijing auto show.[China Daily]
The company debuted an electric version of its Lavida model, developed by its joint venture with SAIC Group at the show, while its luxury brand Audi exhibited the new hybrid Audi A8, a four-wheel drive e-tron electric sports car and the A1 e-tron electric cars.
Japan's Nissan Motor Co said that it will start selling its Leaf electric compact car in China early next year.
The No 3 Japanese automaker, in alliance with Renault SA, teamed up in March with the local government in Wuhan to promote zero-emission vehicles following a similar agreement with Guangzhou municipal government late last year.
Its US rival General Motors also said that it will bring its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to China later this year, the first country outside the US, joining the race for green vehicles in the world's largest auto market.
Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said that China is a "promising market" for electric vehicles, and that the company would strive to develop a new brand for the China market in cooperation with local partner BYD. There are many ways to achieve emission-free mobility, but "electric cars are most feasible in the current stage", he said.
According to a survey released by consulting firm Ernst & Young on Thursday, 60 percent of the 1,000 respondents it interviewed in China said that they will consider purchasing plug-in hybrid and electric cars in the near future, a figure nearly five times greater than in similar surveys conducted in Japan and the US.