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E-car sales static as makers await policy

By Yin Yeping (Global Times)

08:32, October 26, 2012

City authorities said Thursday that they are working on policies to regulate the sale and use of electric cars, however manufacturers and dealers have said that they have high stocks of electric vehicles that they are prevented from selling.

The Beijing government has asked for feedback regarding the new policy from auto companies such as Beijing Auto and Foton, on issues such as the amount of subsidy granted to buyers, and conditions the buyers should meet, the Beijing Times reported Thursday.

Hu Enping, media officer of Beijing Auto, told the Global Times that they have electric cars in stock, but at the moment they target sales to government organizations instead of to members of the public.

"This is because the policies regarding the sale of these vehicles to individuals have not yet been issued," he said. Hu added he was unsure if the government has invited them to participate in the policy-making.

Cui Kai, the media officer of Foton Auto Company, also agreed that the lack of an official policy hinders their attempts to sell electric vehicles.

The price of an electric car is normally much more expensive than a regular gas-driven car of the same series, said Cui.

"So even if the government offers a subsidy to encourage people to buy electric cars, the amount of subsidy is just not enough to balance the price," he said.

Auto companies will not produce vehicles that are not making money, said Cui, which means they will not engage in large-scale manufacture, so the price for these vehicles would remain expensive.

A typical electric car, a Buick LaCrosse eAssist2.4, costs 285,900 yuan ($45,801), while a regular gasoline model costs around 255,590 yuan, according to auto.qq.com.

"The market for electric cars will still depend on the government's purchasing [instead of individuals] in the next five years," Cui said.

But any new policies would not be likely to boost the market, said Cui, because buyers would still have to participate in the city's monthly car license plate lottery.

"One car for one family is regular for the lottery policy," he said.

"So people are more likely to choose a regular vehicle, which could run for longer hours than an electric one," Cui noted.

Wang Wei, media officer of the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, which issues the policy, confirmed that any new legislation regarding electric cars is still awaiting Beijing government approval.

"Until it's approved, we don't know when it will be issued," he said.
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