Feb 20 (Bloomberg) — Chery Automobile Co., China’s largest maker of own-brand cars, unveiled its first plug-in hybrid, touting a range more than twice as far as General Motors Corp.’s planned Volt.
The S18 can travel as much as 150 kilometers (93 miles) using just its batteries, Chery said in a statement posted on its Web site yesterday. GM’s Volt, due to go on sale next year, has a range of 64 kilometers. Chery has no timetable as yet on when the S18 will go on sale, spokesman Jin Yibo said in an interview by phone today.
China has encouraged domestic automakers to develop alternative-energy vehicles to curb oil imports and pollution, as well as to help the local industry challenge GM and Toyota Motor Corp. overseas. BYD Co., the Chinese automaker backed by billionaire Warren Buffett, started selling the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid in December.
The Chinese government plans to support domestic automakers’ research into alternative-energy vehicles in a bid to have 60,000 on the roads of 10 cities by 2012, Science Minister Wan Gang said in November.
Automobiles account for about half of the total oil consumption in China, the world’s largest vehicle market behind the U.S. That may rise to 60 percent by 2020, according to the Development Research Center of the State Council.
Plug-in cars can be recharged from standard household powerpoints. The S18 can be fully charged in as little as four hours and be 80 percent powered via a quick charge at a specialist station in 30 minutes, Chery said.
BYD’s F3 DM can run for 100 kilometers using only batteries. It takes as little as seven hours to fully charge and can be 50 percent powered via a quick charge at a specialist station in 10 minutes.
To help support the development of alternative-energy technologies, the Chinese government plans to give out subsidies of as much as 600,000 yuan ($88,000) per vehicle to public- transport operators and government agencies to help fund purchases of electric, hybrid and fuel-cell automobiles.
Chrysler LLC, the third-largest U.S. automaker, is forecasting sales of battery-powered cars exceeding 100,000 a year by 2013 and GM is counting on selling 60,000 of its first such model in the year after it goes on sale in 2010.
Gasoline-electric hybrids and other electric vehicles made up 2.2 percent of the U.S. market in 2007, according to J.D. Power & Associates, which expects that share to expand to 7 percent by 2015.