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Chinese market electrifying for new energy cars

News International-French

18 Oct 2016

The green car industry is booming in China. That's thanks to government subsidies and new technologies.

The International Exhibition on Green and Energy Efficient Vehicles started in Beijing, where a reporter Martina Fuchs looked at the latest advances and cool rides.

The race is on to produce China's Tesla cars. The Chinese government says it wants five million "green" vehicles on the road by 2020 - in a country of some 1.4 billion people.

Chinese and foreign automakers showcased their latest new and energy-saving vehicles at the International Exhibition on Green and Energy Efficient Vehicles in Beijing.

"In the cover part of the body, we use carbon fiber material. In addition, my company has put a lot of work into the main structure of the car body, and we use aluminium alloy as material, which is 1/3 lighter in weight than steel," said Cao Lei, product engineer of Qiantu Motor.

Electric and green car sales more than quadrupled last year - supported by government subsidies and toxic smog levels in Chinese cities.

The air pollution has propelled China to act, with central government subsidies of up to 8,400 US dollars for buyers of zero- to low-emission vehicles.

The government plans to phase out the subsidies by 2020, pushing automakers to innovate and boost sales even more.

"This type of car is the most advanced and the latest model we have. Our company is planning to start selling it on the market this month. We are very confident about the prospects of this vehicle," said Yang Guanghua, sales manager of Chang'an Automobile.

Domestic companies are benefiting, with Warren Buffett-backed Chinese firm BYD - which stands for "Build Your Dreams" - claiming to be the world's top electric vehicle maker.

China's Geely, which owns Volvo in China, is another major player. It has said in the past that it wants to shift 90 percent of its sales to hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020.

Energy-efficient cars have received the green light from the Chinese government. It aims for new energy vehicle sales to top 3 million units a year by 2025, compared to just 330,000 in 2015.

Despite the boom, electric cars are still only a fraction of the overall auto industry. As in other parts of the world, the market remains on the margins because relatively high costs and a lack of charging stations have dampened public enthusiasm.

Another problem is that China generates most of the electric power that would be used to charge the green cars by burning coal - the biggest source of the country's smog.

Article and interview has been led by Martina Fuchs, reporter at CNTV News Beijin.