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China's top electric carmaker to boost production

BYD's plug-in hybrid Song SUV shines at a motor show in Shanghai in April.

GUANGZHOU, China -- Chinese carmaker BYD plans to make twice as many electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles during the latter half of this year as it produced in the first six months.

     Government support measures have boosted sales of BYD models. In China, these vehicles fall under something called the "new energies" category, and BYD is the sector leader.

     BYD sold about 20,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles during the January to June period, 2.6 times more than a year earlier. Revenue from sales of these cars has grown to 5.87 billion yuan ($921 million) and now accounts for about 20% of the automaker's total sales and roughly 35% of its car production.

     Amid weak sales of gasoline engine-powered vehicles, the company will start making more plug-in hybrids, like the Qin sedan and the Tang SUV. BYD plans to make more than 40,000 new energy cars during the final half of the year, a record number for the company.

     It will also introduce plug-in hybrid SUVs the Song and the Yuan by the end of the year.

     BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu said the company does not currently have the capacity to fill all orders. The automaker has the largest share, about 27%, of China's new-energies car market.

     For the first half of this year, 72,711 electric and plug-in hybrid cars were sold in China, 3.4 times higher than the year earlier and close to the 74,763 units that were sold during all of 2014.

     Behind the higher sales numbers are subsidies and other support measures being offered by the central and major municipal governments. Those who buy certain electric or plug-in hybrid models are entitled to tax reductions and even exemptions as well as grants of up to about $10,000 per vehicle.

     The Chinese government decided in April to continue the support measures through the end of 2020.

     At first, Chinese automakers hesitated to invest in the new energies segment due to the expense. But after dipping their toes into the sector, Chinese industry is putting more money into green cars.

     BYD, for example, in June said it would raise up to 15 billion yuan ($2.35 billion) through a private placement of shares and spend the money on boosting its capacity for making batteries for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

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