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A less “electrified” auto show

by Ding Bo

Electric car fans have been disappointed when upon touring the crowded exhibition center in Shanghai. Except for the old faces of the industry everybody knows, few new electric cars have been displayed.

As for the newly launched EVs, there isn’t a specific timetable for volume production.

It seems car manufacturers have cooled down their anticipation of electric cars, moving away from the buzz they created in various motor shows over the past few years.

In the BYD booth, staffers were no longer enthusiastically touting the company’s heavyweight product e6. They told the inquirers that the e-car is still hard to buy in Shanghai and if consumers place an order, the vehicle can only get a car plate from Shenzhen instead of Shanghai.

Chery Auto, which used to be an enthusiastic EV advocate, has not brought a single EV model to the Shanghai Auto Show. Back in the same motor show in Shanghai in 2009, Chery debuted four new energy models.

Though in this motor show, international carmakers have showed more EV models than Chinese local ones, they also downplayed the new energy vehicles.

The Ford booth was highlighted by a 1.6L EcoBoost combustion engine. A senior company executive told the media that it is more realistic to enhance fuel consumption efficiency than develop electric cars.

Outside the motor show, China’s grand new energy vehicle demonstration project does not look good either.

According to Ye Shengji, deputy secretary-general of China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, demonstration results vary among the 26 pilot cities. A few cities actually have not even put any new energy vehicles on the road.

Just before the Shanghai Auto Show raised its curtain, the Chinese government said it was readjusting the new energy vehicle incentive program.

Previously a subsidy was given based on power battery capacity. Offered at ¥3,000 ($483) per kilowatt, a battery electric vehicle can receive ¥60,000 at most and ¥50,000 for a plug-in electric car. At the same time, a non-plug-in hybrid car only gets ¥3,000, regardless of its fuel economy performance.

Though the new policy details have not yet been released, industry analysts believe a hybrid can receive a subsidy of nearly ¥20,000 if the car’s fuel efficiency rate reaches 30 percent.

Still it is unlikely that China will not give up on vehicle electrification, which has already been positioned as a national strategy direction. But in the foreseeable future, hybrid technology seems to be the realistic approach towards the mission of energy conservation and emissions reduction.

(Rewritten by Ray Jing based on author’s article in Jiangfang Daily)

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