BEIJING -- China's state-owned automakers plan to release eco-friendly cars for around 100,000 yuan ($16,348) in the domestic market, in a bid to cash in on increasing incentives such as government subsidies and infrastructure being developed such as charging facilities.
Their immediate goal is to catch up with leading foreign and local private rivals.
Chongqing Changan Automobile aims to release an electric version of its Eado sedan on the domestic market by the end of the year. The electric vehicle model, which will incorporate lithium ion batteries made by South Korea's LG Chem, can travel 160km per charge.
The vehicle's motor has a maximum 122 horsepower, almost as much as a small turbocharged passenger car, boasting peppy acceleration that makes for enjoyable driving on the highway.
The new car is expected to carry a price tag of roughly 200,000 yuan. But the actual price that an owner has to pay would be around 100,000 yuan, almost same as a gas-fueled Eado, because the car is eligible for incentives such as subsidies from national and local governments and duties exemption.
The most attractive pitch for prospective owners will probably be that the model is significantly cheaper than Japan-based Toyota Motor's Prius hybrid, the leading eco-car, which sells for 230,000-270,000 yuan.
Dongfeng Motor is to make its Fengshen E30L compact car available in the market at the end of this year. The small electric car, which is approximately 3 meters long and 1.5 meters wide, is perfect for driving through small alleys and crowded streets in cities.
The model, which will be also moderately priced at around 100,000 yuan after a cash handout from the authorities, is expected to be available first in Beijing where many facilities for electric cars, such as charging stations, are already established.
Beijing Automotive Industry Holding will also start selling its Shenbao electric vehicle model by the end of this year. The model, which is expected to travel as far as 210km per charge, will be gain speed up to 130kph.
The Beijing-based firm hopes to sell the car, which is expected to be around 200,000 yuan after subsidies, to government authorities such as police as official cars. Luxurious C90EV sedan with more advanced driving performance will also be available in 2016.
First Automobile Works Group, meanwhile, plans to launch its Hongqi plug-in hybrid vehicle next year. The luxury model, which has a 2-liter engine and powerful electric motor, will demonstrate excellent fuel economy that will enable it to travel up to 28km per liter of gasoline and 30km in electric vehicle mode powered by an electric motor. Target customers of the model are drivers of official cars for high-ranking officials in the government and the Communist Party.
Reportedly, the Chinese state-owned automakers have applied green car-related technologies learned from partners from Japan, the U.S. and Europe to product development. The market largely agrees that both design and performance of eco-cars made by Chinese players have significantly improved recently.
China's state-owned carmakers are eager to push up the share in the automotive market by releasing new environment-friendly cars that are expected to grow by tapping into various incentives. In September, the share of Chinese players in the domestic passenger car market has dropped by more than 5 percentage points from five years ago to 38.5%.
China's green car market has been dominated by foreign and local private players so far. Japan's Toyota and Honda Motor offer electric vehicles there, while U.S.-based General Motors exports its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle into the country. China's BYD released its e6 electric car for individual drivers in 2011.