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China's electric cars stuck on low charge

Finding and paying for power can prove a headache for drivers

A man plugs his BYD Tang hybrid in for a charge near a Denza already charging at a State Grid highway station between Hangzhou and Shanghai. (Photo by Mark Andrews)

CHONGQING, China -- It is nearly 9 p.m. on a Sunday at automaker Lifan's production site in the Liangjiang New Area suburb of Chongqing, yet the place is a hive of activity as batteries are loaded into vans. PandAuto, a car-sharing company in which Lifan has invested, operates fleets of electric Lifan 330 cars in several Chinese cities, including Chongqing. These vehicles use swappable batteries, and the site is Chongqing's hub for recharging them.

China's fleet users usually have their own dedicated charging stations. EVCARD, a car sharing company, has chargers at all its pick-up and drop-off stations, and as users typically hire cars for short journeys, worries about vehicle ranges are not a problem. But matters are more complicated for private consumers.

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