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From: Glenn Petersen4/5/2012 11:15:11 AM
   of 2491
 
Payoff for Efficient Cars Takes Years

By NICK BUNKLEY
New York Times
April 4, 2012

DETROIT — Ed Moran’s new Toyota Prius was programmed by the dealer to make him feel good about his gas savings. A dashboard display compares the fuel consumption of the Prius and his 2001 Ford pickup truck.

“Every time I go to the store it will tell me how much money I saved,” said Mr. Moran, a horticulturist in Ames, Iowa.

Like more and more Americans, Mr. Moran is looking to a fuel-efficient car to help soften the financial blow of ever higher gas prices.

Shoppers have more options than ever to fight back, including hybrids, plug-ins, electric vehicles and “eco” or “super fuel economy” packages.

But opting for models that promise better mileage through new technologies does not necessarily save money, according to data compiled for The New York Times by TrueCar.com, an automotive research Web site.

Except for two hybrids, the Prius and Lincoln MKZ, and the diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the added cost of the fuel-efficient technologies is so high that it would take the average driver many years — in some cases more than a decade — to save money over comparable new models with conventional internal-combustion engines.

That is true at today’s pump prices, around $4, and also if gas were to climb to $5 a gallon, the data shows.

Gas would have to approach $8 a gallon before many of the cars could be expected to pay off in the six years an average person owns a car.

Analysts say the added cost of the new technologies is limiting the ability of fuel-efficient cars to gain broader appeal. Hybrid sales have surged more than 60 percent this year, but they still account for less than 3 percent of the total market. Plug-in cars represent a minuscule fraction of sales, with General Motors even halting production of the Chevrolet Volt in response to less demand than it expected.

“The point where a car can actually go after a mass-market audience is when the pricing starts making sense on paper,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president for market intelligence at TrueCar. “If they want these technologies to be mainstream, pricing still needs to come down.”

The Prius and Lincoln MKZ are likely to produce overall savings within two years versus similar-size gas-powered cars from the same brand, but other hybrids, despite ratings 8 to 12 miles per gallon better than conventional models, will cost more to buy and drive for at least five years.

The data assumes an average of 15,000 miles driven a year and a gas price of just under $4 a gallon.

If gas cost $5 a gallon, the TrueCar data estimates that the payback period for a hybrid Ford Fusion over the conventional Fusion would be six and a half years, compared with eight and a half years at $4. At $6 a gallon, the hybrid Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima are likely to generate savings within four years.

So why do some buyers pay more for advanced technology that might not save them money? Many never do the math, analysts say, or they tend to overestimate how much the added miles per gallon translate into actual monetary savings. Some view the higher mileage as better for resale value, hoping to come out better on the back end.

“The price of the vehicle, you only pay it once and then soon forget about it,” Mr. Toprak said.

Others clearly view saving fuel and doing something better for the environment as their ultimate goals, regardless of cost. The Prius, for example, became a success in part because drivers wanted to drive — and be seen driving — a hybrid.

“Fuel economy has become a social attribute,” said Tom Turrentine, an anthropologist at the University of California, Davis, who has studied car buying habits and is the director of the university’s Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center. “People want to have good fuel economy because if they have poor fuel economy they might look stupid.”

The low price tag and high mileage rating of the new Prius C hatchback persuaded Mr. Moran, the horticulturist, to buy one in March.

He paid a little over $22,000 for the car, which is smaller and less expensive than the regular Prius, with an identical 50 miles-per-gallon rating. That is about the same price as a Toyota Camry sedan, which gets about 30 miles per gallon.

Mr. Moran, 34, knew his fuel savings would be overshadowed by his new monthly loan payment, but driving a hybrid just felt right. “I thought, ‘I try to save plants every day, so why am I not doing my part?’ ” he said.

Early in March, Toyota said that it had sold more Prius C cars in its first three days on the market than Chevrolet sold plug-in Volts and Nissan sold battery-powered Leafs in all of February. The statistic highlights that even within the fuel-efficient car market, hybrids have a big leg up on electric cars, which are far more expensive.

According to TrueCar, a buyer who chose the Leaf instead of a Nissan Versa would need to drive it for almost nine years at today’s gas prices or six years at $5 a gallon before the fuel savings outweighed the nearly $10,000 difference in price.

The Volt, which cost nearly $40,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, could take up to 27 years to pay off versus a Chevrolet Cruze, assuming it was regularly driven farther than its battery-only range allows. The payback time could drop to about eight years if gas cost $5 a gallon and the driver remained exclusively on battery power.

The Lundberg Survey, which tracks fuel prices, said in March that gas prices would need to reach $12.50 a gallon for the Volt to make sense purely on financial terms. It said the Leaf would be competitive with gas at $8.53 a gallon.

Still, in a recent survey by Consumer Reports, the most satisfied drivers owned Volts. The survey said 93 percent of Volt owners would definitely buy the car again — though there are only 12,000 of the cars on the road.

“If you provide consumers what they want, they won’t mind paying a premium to get it,” Mr. Toprak said.

Marcus Schuh, the general manager of Terry Lee Honda, a dealership near Indianapolis, said shoppers were not necessarily looking to save money when they shopped for a fuel-efficient car.

Many just want a vehicle that consumes less gas, and some are willing to pay a modest premium for a hybrid if they want to reduce their fuel use even more, he said.

“There’s probably a percentage that is aware of the cost and benefit,” Mr. Schuh said. “It’s about helping the environment and it’s a good feeling to do it.”

Right now, the biggest reason people are not buying many hybrids, he said, is that they are in short supply, because of production cuts caused by last year’s tsunami in Japan, where Honda makes all of its hybrids. So if someone comes in asking for a hybrid, Mr. Schuh can make the argument that their overall costs might be less by going with a conventional car.

The TrueCar data shows that upgrade packages like the “eco” trim level on Chevrolet’s car lineup generally take even longer to pay off than hybrids. Such upgrades cost less than a hybrid powertrain, but the increase in gas mileage is much smaller.

Even so, Matt Melliere, 25, decided in January that the Chevrolet Cruze Eco was the right car for him. At 42 miles per gallon in highway driving, it is twice as efficient as the Subaru WRX he had previously.

“The miles per gallon was definitely the driving factor,” said Mr. Melliere, who lives in St. Charles, Mo., and commutes 20 miles each way to his marketing job with an online retailer.

“Every day when gas goes up,” he said, “I feel better and better about my purchase.”

nytimes.com 

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From: Eric4/6/2012 10:00:35 PM
   of 2491
 
Electric-Drive Vehicle Demand Recharged by Gas Prices

Just when it looked like electric cars were running out of juice, the return of $4 a gallon gasoline is generating new life for battery-powered vehicles.

Electric-drive vehicles, including hybrids, plug-in models and pure battery-powered cars, were the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. auto market in the first quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales of those models rose 49 percent to 117,182 vehicles in the first quarter, from 78,527 a year earlier before Japan’s earthquake and tsunami pinched output.

Electric cars and hybrids are surging in tandem with gasoline prices, which averaged $3.93 a gallon on April 3, approaching the July 2008 peak of $4.11, according to AAA. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Prius hybrid and General Motors Co. (GM)’s Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric car each had record sales in March. Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosnrepeated he’s “bullish” that pure electric cars will capture 10 percent of the market by 2020.

“There are a lot of concerns today that the electric car is going to solve,” Ghosn said yesterday in an interview at the New York auto show. “People don’t want to have to go to the gasoline station. They just want to fill their tank at home. They want to make sure they’re not paying too much money for their gasoline bill every month.”

Sales of the Nissan Leaf electric car will take off in August when Nissan begins producing it in the U.S., boosting output and possibly lowering prices, Ghosn said.

Differing Opinions

Ghosn’s view of one in 10 cars being electric by 2020 isn’t widely shared. LMC Automotive predicts 2 percent of cars in the U.S. will be electric by 2020. Add in gasoline-electric hybrids and plug-ins and the Troy, Michigan-based researcher’s forecast rises to 9.2 percent.

Ghosn’s forecast is “is way too optimistic,” said Mike Omotoso, LMC’s senior manager for powertrain forecasting. “Ten percent share for hybrids is achievable, but not for EVs. They will still be too expensive to become a mass-market product within the next 10 years.”

GM had halted Volt production for five weeks because of sluggish sales following a federal investigation into fires in the car’s battery, which resulted in the vehicle getting a clean bill of health. At a congressional hearing about the probe, Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said the car was being used as a “political punching bag.”

Rising sales last month spurred GM to restart Volt production one week earlier than planned. GM sold 2,289 Volts in March, a record monthly total for the car. The previous high was 1,529 deliveries in December.

New Volt Target

“We’re adding a week back and that’s all you need to know,” Mark Reuss, GM’s North American chief, said yesterday in New York, showing a flash of anger over a car that has become a lightning rod for critics of government bailouts, including GM’s, in 2009. “We’re doing it because we sold a lot.”

Production will resume April 16, Chris Lee, a GM spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Separately, Akerson said in a Bloomberg Radio interview to be broadcast in May that he wants to raise monthly Volt sales to 3,000 or more in the coming months.

Electric cars and battery makers have suffered high-profile power failures. Fisker Automotive Inc.’s $103,000 Karma sports sedan shut down in a test by Consumer Reports magazine. A123 Systems Inc. (AONE) is recalling the electric car batteries it made for Fisker and other automakers.

Mitt Romney, leading in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, calls the Obama administration’s loans to startups such as Fisker, “crony capitalism.”

Hybrid Premium

Last year, consumers turned away from battery-powered cars as automakers improved the efficiency of gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines and supplies of electrified vehicles were limited by natural disasters in Asia.

Hybrids fell to 2.2 percent of the U.S. market last year, down from 2.4 percent in 2010, after peaking at 2.8 percent in 2009, LMC says. Electrified vehicles secured 3.4 percent of the U.S. light-vehicle market in this year’s first quarter, up from 2.6 percent a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

With rising prices at the pump, consumers are beginning to see value in paying as much as $5,000 extra for a hybrid, automakers say.

‘Peaking’ Interest

“Hybrid interest is peaking and it correlates very well to gas prices,” John Krafcik, chief executive officer of the North American unit of Hyundai Motor Co. (005380), said in an interview yesterday. “Our Sonata hybrid sales are fantastic.”

As much as 30 percent of Sonata sedans Hyundai is building are equipped with gasoline-electric hybrid systems, Krafcik said.

The market for all-electric vehicles such as the $35,200 Leaf and plug-in hybrids like the $39,145 Volt will remain“tough,” Krafcik said. Such vehicles also are a less-attractive option for people who live in urban areas, with limited access to garages where they can recharge their cars at night, he said.

Higher gasoline prices have provided a lift to Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s Civic hybrid sales, which more than doubled last month and are up 29 percent for the year, said Tetsuo Iwamura, head of the automaker’s North American operations.

Consumers are not ready to embrace all- electric vehiclesbecause of concerns about how long the battery will last and how far the car can go before recharging for hours, Iwamura said.

“Electric vehicles, do we really have a market for that?”Iwamura said yesterday in an interview. “I’m not quite sure the future of battery vehicle. I’m not so clear as Mr. Ghosn.”

Nissan’s Ghosn says his company’s tests show the batteries will outlast the electric cars they’re in and he contends concerns about recharging and plug-in infrastructure are being resolved.

“This is the car of the future,” Ghosn said.

bloomberg.com 

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From: John Koligman4/11/2012 2:59:05 PM
2 Recommendations   of 2491
 
Only a Third of Hybrid Car Owners Buy Another Hybrid



Published: Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 | 11:15 AM ET

By: Chris Woodyard



Photo: toyota.com
A new study finds that only about a third of hybrid owners buy another hybrid.

Industry researcher R.L. Polk & Co. says hybrid nameplates have more than doubled since 2007, but just 35 percent of hybrid owners bought another hybrid when returning to the market in 2011.

If you factor out the high-loyalty Toyota Prius, hybrid loyalty drops to 25 percent. But a higher percentage of hybrid owners — 60 percent for Toyota [TM 82.53 1.59 (+1.96%) ], 52 percent for Honda [HMC 36.09 0.47 (+1.32%) ] — stayed within the brand when shopping for their next car.

Hybrids represent just 2.4 percent of the new-car market, down from 2.9 percent in 2008 when gas hit an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon. But Polk finds overall hybrid loyalty changed little as gas prices fluctuated between $2 and $4 from 2008 to 2011.

Interestingly, traditional eco-friendly markets such as Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Ore., stayed near the national average for hybrid loyalty, while unlikely places such as West Palm Beach, Fla., and Phoenix had the highest loyalty rates.

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To: John Koligman who wrote (2012)4/11/2012 3:31:25 PM
From: Sergio H
   of 2491
 
Anybody looked at SEV? Low vol. small cap, but getting some nice contracts with future prospects in electric car niche.

sevcon.com 

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To: Sergio H who wrote (2013)4/16/2012 9:58:41 PM
From: Sergio H
   of 2491
 



Electric-Drive Vehicles Sales Jump 49% in the First Quarter
8:20a ET April 11, 2012 (Market Wire)

Rising gas prices and an improving economy have led to an impressive surge for hybrid and electric car sales. With no immediate solution for rising gas prices Americans have been protecting their pockets by switching over to hybrid and electric cars. The increase in demand has provided a great boost for companies in the Alternative Auto Parts Industry. Five Star Equities examines the outlook for companies in the Alternative Auto Parts Industry and provides equity research on Fuel Systems Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSYS) and Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies (NASDAQ: QTWW).

Access to the full company reports can be found at:

www.FiveStarEquities.com/FSYS www.FiveStarEquities.com/QTWW

According to a recent Bloomberg report, electric-drive vehicles, including hybrids, plug-in models and pure battery-powered cars, were the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. auto market. First quarter sales jumped 49 percent to 117,182 vehicles from 78,527 a year prior.

"There are a lot of concerns today that the electric car is going to solve," Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said in a recent interview at the New York auto show. "People don't want to have to go to the gasoline station. They just want to fill their tank at home. They want to make sure they're not paying too much money for their gasoline bill every month."

Five Star Equities releases regular market updates on the Alternative Auto Parts Industry so investors can stay ahead of the crowd and make the best investment decisions to maximize their returns. Take a few minutes to register with us free at www.FiveStarEquities.com and get exclusive access to our numerous stock reports and industry newsletters.

Fuel Systems Solutions, Inc. reported results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2011. Mariano Costamagna, Fuel Systems' CEO, said, "Fuel Systems' fourth quarter revenue grew 34% to $111 million from the prior year with our BRC and IMPCO businesses growing 36% and 27%, respectively, enabling us to exceed our revenue outlook for 2011.

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To: Sergio H who wrote (2014)4/16/2012 10:34:43 PM
From: Sergio H
3 Recommendations   of 2491
 
Leading the charge: GoE3 to develop first coast to coast interstate EV charging network

digitaltrends.com 

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From: John Koligman4/20/2012 12:24:02 PM
1 Recommendation   of 2491
 
If they can ever get this tech off the ground at a reasonable price, it will get people to take a second look at electric....

IBM speeds push for 500-mile EV battery Big Blue signs on partners for its Battery 500 Project to design an "air-breathing" lithium air battery that would create a leap in energy density.



by Martin LaMonica April 20, 2012 5:52 AM PDT

An air-breathing battery: the basic chemistry of a lithium air battery is to combine oxygen from the air with lithium ions to create lithium peroxide and the reverse reaction during charge and discharge.

(Credit: IBM)
Ten years from now, range anxiety for electric cars could be a thing of the past.

IBM today announced two partners for a project aimed at building a lithium air battery able to propel an electric car 500 miles. Scientists from Asahi Kasei and Central Glass with expertise in membranes and electrolyte chemistries will join IBM researchers on the initiative.

Called the Battery 500 Project, the goal is to design an "air-breathing" battery that will use oxygen from the air to drive a new type of battery chemical reaction and, in the process, deliver a big jump in EV range potential. The company hopes to have a working demonstration by the end of next year.

The fact that IBM Research has expanded the research team with these two companies and other unnamed ones is a sign that the ambitious effort is on the right track, said Winfried Wilcke, principal investigator at IBM Research who started the project in 2009.



Materials scientists for years have been pursuing lithium air batteries, which use oxygen from the air to react with lithium ions to discharge and charge electric energy. It still remains in the realm of research but Wilcke said that IBM has made progress understanding the basic chemistry and made important decisions on how a working battery would be engineered.

"Unlike what we originally thought, we know we have a really good electrochemical reaction. The problems now are secondary," he said. "There are still tremendous engineering challenges ahead so there's no hope of it happening this decade."

The basic target of the research is to build a battery that would give an average-size family electric car a 500-mile range. The lithium ion batteries in the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric allow for between roughly 75 and 100 miles of range. The high-end edition of Tesla Motors' Model S will have an option for up to 300 miles of range.

A lithium air battery would use a different chemical reaction inside the battery during charge and discharge from today's lithium ion batteries. Using supercomputer simulations, IBM researchers found that new active components, namely the electrolytes, need to be different, Wilcke said.

The approach IBM is pursuing now would actually use two electrolytes, with one on the anode side and another on the cathode side. Because IBM has chosen a battery design with two electrolytes, membrane technology to control the movement of lithium ions is an important part of the research.


Related stories
For the most part, today's lithium ion batteries supply ample power to accelerate a car forward but the primary technical barriers are cost and energy density, or the amount of stored energy per volume. Several companies are developing enhancements to lithium ion battery components that promise to improve the performance in the years ahead.

IBM Research's approach is not an incremental improvement but a fundamentally different chemistry, which makes the venture high risk and one that requires years of consistent work. Wilcke, though, is feeling good about the progress to date and said the lithium air work could have benefits for other types of batteries.

"What I'm not certain about is what the cost will be. It's just too early and it depends on all kinds of different things," he said. "The overall trend is that I'm feeling more optimistic as time goes by, rather than less."

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From: UPTICK4/20/2012 3:50:18 PM
1 Recommendation   of 2491
 
theglobeandmail.com 

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To: UPTICK who wrote (2017)4/22/2012 11:03:38 AM
From: Sergio H
   of 2491
 
US Demand for Electric Vehicles Climbs in First Quarter

lithiuminvestingnews.com 

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From: John Koligman4/24/2012 10:35:44 AM
1 Recommendation   of 2491
 
China's dream of electric car leadership elusive

Email this Story

Apr 24, 9:01 AM (ET)

By JOE McDONALD
(AP) A woman demonstrates BYD's new charging and discharging technology on a BYD e6 electric car during...
Full Image

BEIJING (AP) - China's leaders are finding it's a lot tougher to create a world-beating electric car industry than they hoped.

In 2009, they announced bold plans to cash in on demand for clean vehicles by making China a global power in electric car manufacturing. They pledged billions of dollars for research and called for annual sales of 500,000 cars by 2015.

Today, Beijing is scaling back its ambitions, chastened by technological hurdles and lack of buyer interest. Developers have yet to achieve breakthroughs and will be lucky to sell 2,000 cars this year, mostly taxis. The government has hedged its bets by broadening the industry's official goals to include cleaner gasoline engines.

The government has repeatedly changed targets because the "technology isn't advancing quite as fast as people had hoped," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford Motor Co. ( F)'s president for Asia, at this week's Beijing auto show.


The government has yet to lower sales goals that ramp up to 5 million vehicles a year by 2020. But officials including Premier Wen Jiabao started acknowledging last year that progress was slow and developers need to improve quality instead of rushing models to market.

About 13,000 all-electric and other alternative energy vehicles are being tested in 25 cities, but that is "still small despite government subsidies," the deputy director of the Ministry of Science and Technology's electric vehicle bureau, Zhen Zijian, said in March, according to the business magazine Caixin.

China's most advanced developer, BYD Co., in which American investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Corp. owns a 10 percent stake, says its electric e6 sedan can travel 300 kilometers (190 miles) on a charge, similar to Western models.

BYD has sold 300 taxis and 200 electric buses used in the southern city of Shenzhen, a center for business and technology near Hong Kong, according to Henry Li, general manager of its export division. BYD has invested heavily in research and has thousands of engineers working on battery and motor technology.

"We think our EV (electric vehicle) platform is one of the most advanced in the world, and our capability for mass production is quite high," Li said.

(AP) BYD employees wait for visitors next to BYD new cars, at the Beijing International Automotive...
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But as for the rest of the industry, "there are not many manufacturers with really reliable or commercialized products," he said.

Chinese leaders saw electric cars as a way to curb demand for imported oil, which they regard as a strategic danger, and to help transform China from a low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology.

"China has run up against the same technical obstacles as anyone else," said Michael Dunne, president of Dunne & Co. Ltd., a Hong Kong-based industry researcher.

"They said: Hold on, maybe we shouldn't marry ourselves to electrics just yet. Let's look at the alternatives. Maybe we have to take an incremental approach, just like everyone else," Dunne said.

Wary consumers have been put off by news reports of batteries in Chinese-made cars catching fire. A lack of charging stations is causing "range anxiety" - fears a car might run out of power, leaving the driver stranded.

(AP) In this Monday April 23, 2012 photo, a BYD employee checks a model of a charging station for BYD's...
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Under the Communist Party's latest five-year development plan for China's economy, issued in 2011, the government has released guidelines for other industries but not for alternative vehicles - a possible sign officials have gone back to the drawing board.

Developers were encouraged last week by a Cabinet statement that repeated support for electric vehicles. But it also called for work on developing non-plug-in hybrids and energy-saving internal combustion engines.

"The momentum has been slowed down," said John Zeng, chief of Asian forecasting for LMC Automotive, a research firm.

"They don't expect the EV or hybrid can be the only way for China to maintain its future sustainable mobility," Zeng said. "They think they need multiple initiatives to achieve that target."

Plus, gasoline and diesel technologies are advancing, luring consumers with the promise of lower operating costs.

(AP) A charging station for electric vehicles is displayed together with the Great Wall C20 EV, an...
Full Image
The government launched research into electric, fuel cell and other alternative power sources in 2001. It followed in 2004 with a plan to create a competitive electric car and promised financial support to developers.

Automakers responded to Beijing's enthusiasm. General Motors Co. ( GM) ( GM) announced plans in 2007 for a $250 million alternative fuel research center in Shanghai. Germany's Daimler AG teamed up with BYD to create an electric car joint venture dubbed Denza. They unveiled a display version of its first model this week at the Beijing auto show.

China's initiative prompted some in the United States and Europe to worry they might fall behind in a key technology. An assistant U.S. energy secretary, David Sandalow, visited Beijing in 2009 and warned China had "the potential to be ahead" if the United States failed to invest in development.

Beijing's 2009 plan called for world-class electric cars by this year, followed by trucks and buses. To encourage buyers, the government started paying buyers rebates of up to 60,000 yuan ($8,800) per car the following year in five cities including Shanghai.

But Wen, China's top economic official, expressed frustration at the slow pace of development in an article published last July.

"We are no match for developed countries in technology," Wen wrote in Qiushi, the ruling party's main theoretical journal.

"We've only just begun in electric car development," the premier wrote. Wen said Chinese leaders shared in the blame: "We have not set clear enough goals of which way to go."

Beijing strained relations with the United States and other trading partners by rolling out rules limiting access to its auto market unless foreign developers shared technology to Chinese partners.

Daimler has said it formed its venture with BYD not due to official pressure but because it wanted to create a low-cost brand for China. Daimler said their car, due to go on sale next year, should have a range of 200-250 kilometers (125-155 miles) on one charge.

Other manufacturers such as Nissan Motor Co., maker of the electric Leaf, and General Motors Co. have chosen to pay the higher taxes required to import electric and hybrid vehicles rather than disclose expensive know-how to Chinese partners that might become rivals.

GM is taking orders for its all-electric Volt in China but expects limited sales due to a relatively high price of 498,000 yuan ($79,000).

"It's expensive in China at the moment because of import duties, and we don't qualify for incentives," said Kevin Wale, president of GM China. "But we still think it's important that we demonstrate its capabilities here in China."

Chinese producers have unveiled a series of display models of electric and hybrid cars, some sprouting tiny solar panels or wind turbines for recharging, though most say they are not ready for mass-market sales.

LMC Automotive's Zeng said that aside from BYD, which has spent heavily on development, most have done only the minimum required to qualify for research grants.

"I think it's more to create a PR bubble or fight for government subsidies," he said.

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