2014, an Icebreaking Year for New Energy Automobiles?
   2014-03-23 16:38:15    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Sun Wanming

A red Tesla Model S on display at Tesla's first showroom in China, which is located at the Parkview Green in Beijing on March 21, 2014. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Sun Wanming]

Continuous haze in China has prompted more people to seek a healthy, eco-friendly mode of transport. New energy automobiles, which have been under development in China for more than a decade have recently come to the center of public attention since being proposed by members of the CPPC in March.

The Chinese government has scaled up its subsidies for new energy vehicles. Beijing and Shanghai are also taking measures to abolish local protectionism. The new energy automobile market witnessed a sharp increase of more than a third in 2013.

As one of the seven car models included in Beijing's New Energy Vehicle Catalogue, BMW's newly-developed all-electric sedan, the Zinoro 1E, made its debut in Sanlitun Soho in Beijing in mid-February.

Wu Haifeng, the manager of Zinoro's Beijing showroom explained that the Zinoro is offering an innovative rent-only mode of operation, ranging from one-day rent to three-year rent.

Wu stated that many prospective buyers are taking a 'let's wait-and-see' attitude towards the emerging sector. Rental cars can offset their concerns, and they can rent for just one day to experience and decide whether the electric car meets their needs.

To save consumers' time and energy, Zinoro also offers an all-inclusive service, namely a one-off rental fee covering license plates, insurance, and after-sales services including maintenance and repair.

"From next week, five Zinoro 1e will be dispatched for test runs. Up to now, several hundred clients have come for consultations and to make reservations for test runs," Wu said.

Addressing the central concern of buyers over the battery endurance of new energy cars, another car model included in the Beijing New Energy Vehicle Catalogue, the BYD e6 carries an absolute advantage.

Ma Linbo, a sales manager at the Xin Min Heng BYD 4S store, said that the e6 is an all-electric crossover vehicle which combines the properties of an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) with those of an MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle).

"The driving range of the e6 reaches over 300 kilometers, exceeding that of other self-developed car brands by 50%," Ma said.

However, the e6 and 1e, as all-electric vehicles pitched at high-end markets, are not competitive enough in terms of price.

Therefore, BYD has moved its strategic focus from the all-electric to the hybrid field, releasing a brand-new hybrid vehicle "Qin" last December which refers to the Qin Dynasty in Chinese history.

As a cost-effective hybrid vehicle, the Qin ranked first in new energy vehicle sales in China in January.

To continue its success with the "Qin", BYD is planning to release a follow-up "Dynasty Series" of hybrid models in the future, including a SUV hybrid of "Tang", "Yuan", "Ming" and "Qing". BYD is also planning to produce a sports car, named e9, targeted at private high-end users.

Besides BYD's strategy to sharpen its target market, several other car enterprises are also looking for complementary resources from overseas.

Chinese auto maker, Geely Automobile, which completed the takeover of Volvo in 2010, announced its plan to set foot in the new energy vehicle field. Geely also acquired the UK electric car maker, Emerald, in February.

Additionally, the German car-maker Daimler Benz and BYD established have a joint venture enterprise in Shenzhen, and will unveil their first cooperative car model, Denza next Month.

Lin Mi, vice CEO of sales and marketing at Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology said that Denza has effectively combined Daimler's century-long auto-making experience with BYD's advantage in battery and electronic control.

In addition, introduced to the world a leading power and automation technology group, ABB's technology in battery. In the following six years, ABB will exclusively provide direct current quick-charging household equipment for our automobiles."

Lin Mi further points out that from an industrial perspective, electro vehicles face two major difficulties, the construction of infrastructures and gaining the confidence of consumers in electro vehicles. In his view, this will be a gradual process, as residents need time to become familiar with new energy vehicles.

Lin believes that 2014 marks an important turning point for electric vehicles, which can signficantly change residents' lifestyles and modes of travel. It will also improve the discharge difficulty faced by major cities and alter the industrial layout. "This is a major revolution, not only for vehicle itself, but also for its supporting facilities and represents a brand-new business model," he added.

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