BEIJING ( Reuters ) – The bantam electric car that Chen Xianping drives to work over bumpy country roads in Shandong province says much about the hurdles facing China ’ mho efforts to promote electric vehicles and the big cable car companies ’ efforts to sell them. It ’ s not a beautiful machine. The Shifeng brand car resembles a fatten Fiat Mini with outsize headlights and has a top accelerate of about 50 kilometres per hour. But Chen ‘s little car has a large advantage : it cost only 31,600 yuan ( about $ 5,000 ), army for the liberation of rwanda cheaper than BYD ‘s 1211.HK larger e6, which costs 369,800 yuan ( $ 58,700 ). And it helps that it ‘s not a actual car in the eyes of the politics. “ I had considered getting a gasoline cable car, but you need to have a driver ’ mho license and pay indemnity for that, ” Chen said, beaming as he drove his car home from the village school where he is a teacher.

Beijing has made a blue start toward its ambitious goal of putting of 500, 000 hybrids and electric vehicles ( EVs ) on China ’ s roads by the end of 2015, rising to more than 5 million by 2020. last year, a bare 8,159 were sold across the stallion area, including those for government fender programs for e-taxis and e-buses. Although heavily subsidised, the EVs the government promotes remain expensive. even after generous subsidies of 120,000 yuan, the price of the BYD e6 would be seven times Chen ’ s wage. A dearth of charging stations and high barrage prices have besides contributed to the slow footstep of high-performance EV sales. But while policymakers and executives at major automakers wring their hands, scores of humble, unaccredited entrepreneurs are tapping the grocery store ’ s substantial sweetly spot – not middle-class environmentalists, but lower-income buyers who want to get off their bikes and into any four-wheel fomite they can afford. By some estimates, some 260 million people in China even trust on bicycles and motorcycles as their main mode of transportation and could be potential customers. “ Mini electric cars are getting popular in rural areas as farmers need something low-cost to carry them about, ” said Wei Xueqing, frailty president and secretary general of Shandong Automobile Manufacturers Association. “ Many are still taking their kids to school on bikes, motorcycles or even three-wheel grow vehicles, which are neither safe nor comfortable. ” Mainstream automakers, however, see it differently “ These cars are illegal, insecure and shouldn ’ t be on the road, ” said an executive at Changan Automobile Group, China ’ s fourth-largest car manufacturer. There could besides be some intellectual place rights issues, he added, and “ the politics should do something about it. ”

FOLLOWING THE MONEY

Lu Jiantong, founder and CEO of car R & D fast Lojo EV, is typical of the small entrepreneurs who have entered the sector. He shifted his previous focus on costly, high-performance EVs after he discovered the real opportunities for quick money were catering to rural consumers. With Lu ’ randomness aid, Yang Huayu, a Shandong entrepreneur who started building mini e-cars only a year ago, is already selling three or four a day. “ The engineering must match the market. Today the high-speed electric cable car market hasn ’ t taken off so far, but need for slow-speed electric cars is growing, ” said Lu. About 12 hours ’ drive from Yang ’ s factory in Gaotang county is Shifeng Group ’ s fresh 480 million yuan assembly plant, where workers churn out 100 miniskirt e-cars per day. Shifeng is the top musician in the grocery store, with about a 50 percentage plowshare. Shifeng delivered closely 30,000 cars to its 200 dealer outlets across the nation in 2011. Sales this year could hit 50,000, about a 13-fold addition over the floor in 2008, the first gear broad class of sales, said company frailty president of the united states Lin Lianhua.

“ We have a built-in capacity of 100,000 cars, we can easily speed up if needed, ” said Li, who has been commuting between home and work in a blue e-car for closely two years. Sandwiched between the trucks, vans and farm vehicles that dominate the area roads of Shandong, the far-out mini EVs have even caught the attention of global heavyweights. According to Wei at the car association, executives from Toyota Motor 7203.T and Mitsubishi Motors Corp 7211.T have made fact-finding trips to Shandong. NOT “ GREEN ” E-CARS To expand their solicitation, Lin and his team at Shifeng have started trial production of a sleek version of miniskirt e-cars, with better department of the interior plan and might efficiency. Yang, the commercial enterprise owner, is besides ready to add more factory workers to meet rise demand. Both executives declined to parcel their longer-term sales targets, aware that shifting government policies could on the spur of the moment change their expectation. Like Shifeng, most of the dozens of small manufacturers in this segment operate without official licences, making their sustainability uncertain. furthermore, the brassy lead-acid batteries that baron their cars create pollution during product and disposal, hardly projecting the “ green ” image that politics officials hope the EV sector will convey. But they account for merely a one-third of mini e-car total monetary value, while e6 ’ second lithium iron phosphate batteries contribute about two-thirds of the cost. “ It is decidedly not a real EV. It ’ south future very much depends on government policy, ” said Paul Gao, car adviser at McKinsey & Co. In late 2008, just as Shifeng was gearing up to increase output signal, executives got a surprise visit from Beijing regulators and were advised not to challenge the grocery store ’ sulfur status quo. Some feared the e-cars could take market partake away from similarly priced low-end gasoline models. After that visit, Shifeng ’ mho assembly tune was idled for half a year and resumed only after coherent lobby efforts by authorities eager to spur the local economy. The latest message to Shandong from at least one herculean cardinal government official : Go ahead if there is marketplace need, but don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate call them “ green ” vehicles. meanwhile, raw orders keep coming. Yang Wenjun, a supporter of Chen ’ south and owner of a small grocery store in a neighbor village, besides wants to trade his motorbike for an e-car.

“ I ’ ve seen them about, ” he says. “ I figure it must feel good to visit friends and relatives in a four-wheeler. ” Editing by Don Durfee and Matt Driskill Our Standards : The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles .

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