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New energy vehicles await fuel injection

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New energy vehicles await fuel injection
Updated: 2013-08-05 07:35
By Jiang Xueqing ( China Daily)
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New energy vehicles await fuel injection

A visitor inspects a BYD new energy vehicle on display at the China (Shanghai) International Technology Fair. LAI XINLIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Market fails to gain traction as government subsidy policy on hold, reports Jiang Xueqing in Shenzhen.

Like many auto industry executives, Xu Weihan, chief financial officer of Shanghai Gaozhan New Energy Vehicle Sales Services, is anxiously awaiting a new government policy on subsidies for private purchases of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

Charge point installation makes for a rocky ride

Earlier this year, Li Weimin, who works for an auto services company in Shanghai, bought a Roewe E50 to assess the performance and weaknesses of electric vehicles.

The all-electric model, made by SAIC Motor Corp, is priced at 234,900 yuan ($38,326). After deducting subsidies of more than 100,000 yuan, Li actually paid 149,500 yuan for the car, including tax and insurance.

“Someone has to try out a new product like this,” said Li, who also has a conventionally powered car.

Li’s Roewe E50 has covered more than 4,500 km since he bought it on Feb 26. The car has a range of 120 km in normal weather and traffic conditions, but that falls to around 70 km when the air conditioning is in use.

However, installation of a charging pole on the permanent parking lot at his residential area took four months. The application procedure is extremely complicated, partly because demand is limited to a small number of individuals.

“First, I sent an application to the property management company, which discussed the matter for two months before finally giving approval. Then I applied to a power supply bureau and Shanghai Municipal Electric Power for the electricity supply and installation of an electricity meter. In the end, I submitted a construction plan to the property management company for approval and arranged the wiring layout myself,” he said.

The distance between Li’s home and office is 11 km. He usually charges his car once every three days, or on alternative days during hot weather when the air-conditioning unit will be in full use.

Most companies that manage parking lots and residential areas do not allow the installation of charging poles because of the amount of space required. Once, charging poles were installed in front of service centers and offices of power supply bureaus in Shanghai, but now they’re only installed at the request of individual drivers, according to Li.

He suggested the government take the lead in coordinating work between the relevant departments and power companies to accelerate the construction of charging facilities and the promotion of electric vehicles.
The previous policy, which expired at the end of last year, provided a maximum subsidy of 50,000 yuan ($8,160) for plug-in hybrids and 60,000 yuan for electric cars. When in force, it helped Shanghai Gaozhan sell nearly 400 electric vehicles and take orders for a further 400 since opening a dealership in Shanghai in November 2011.

Because the new policy is up in the air, the company’s business in the first half of the year has been greatly affected.

“Many customers who had signed orders have canceled their purchases,” said Xu. “The tough situation forced some major auto manufacturers, such as SAIC Motor, to pay the subsidies first. They started doing that in July. They will apply to the government for reimbursement of the subsidies when the new policy is unveiled.”

The Chinese government provides stronger support to new energy vehicles in terms of subsidies than any other in the world, said Pang Yicheng, CEO of Beijing EV Future Information Technology Co, an information provider for the electric vehicle industry.

In addition to the central government, a number of local governments have also formulated their own policies to encourage purchases of new energy vehicles. In December, the Shanghai municipal government, for example, set up a yearlong program to pay subsidies of 30,000 yuan for plug-in hybrids and 40,000 yuan for electric vehicles. To sweeten the deal even further, it also offers purchasers free license plates.
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