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China's Geely debuts fuel cell bus

Automaker seeks to lead emerging field as green competition grows

Geely's new F12 fuel cell bus can travel 500 km after just 10 minutes of refueling. (Photo courtesy of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group)

BEIJING -- Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has introduced a fuel cell bus with an eye toward solidifying its position in the nation's growing zero-emissions market.

Geely is now taking orders domestically for the F12 bus, the company's first fuel-cell vehicle. The bus will be sold under the Yuan Cheng Auto brand, which was created for new-energy commercial vehicles. The company says the bus can travel 500 km after 10 minutes of hydrogen refueling.

This rollout arrives soon after Toyota Motor announced in April a deal to supply Beijing Automotive Group, or BAIC, with fuel cell equipment and hydrogen tanks for buses. Geely aims to take the lead in the fuel cell field as the Chinese government pushes for alternatives to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Geely will provide breakdown diagnostics for the F12 and 24-hour surveillance, both delivered remotely. Along with maintenance checks and parts replacements, the automaker will offer fleet management and financing services for those purchasing the buses.

The Chinese government aims to have 5,000 to 10,000 fuel cell vehicles on the road in 2020, along with at least 100 hydrogen refueling stations to service them. Yuan Cheng employs 1,000 engineers, and the unit plans to expand orders mainly by teaming up with bus companies in outlying areas, many of which are state-owned operations. The F12 is being made in plants in the provinces of Sichuan and Shanxi so that Yuan Cheng can swiftly capture customers in both northern and southern China.

Geely, which sold 2.15 million vehicles last year, is one of the top-five sellers of new-energy vehicles in China. The privately held automaker also offers a ride-hailing service, CaoCao, that uses green autos. In March, Geely bought a half interest in Daimler's Smart brand of compact vehicles. Under the joint venture, Geely and Daimler plan to put new electric vehicles on the market in 2022.

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