Electric cars centre stage at Beijing show as China tries to curb emissions

Daimler’s Denza eligible for local subsidies in China

Hubertus Troska, China-CEO of Daimler; Wang Chuanfu, chief of BYD (Build Your Dreams); and Daimler development chief Thomas Weber  present the  electric Denza as Auto China 2014 opens for media. Photograph: Andreas Landwehr/EPA

Hubertus Troska, China-CEO of Daimler; Wang Chuanfu, chief of BYD (Build Your Dreams); and Daimler development chief Thomas Weber present the electric Denza as Auto China 2014 opens for media. Photograph: Andreas Landwehr/EPA

 

Although the skies have been unusually clear for the first couple of days of Auto China Show in Beijing, pollution is a constant concern in the Chinese capital and new energy vehicles have been a major theme on the first public day at the 2014 edition of the show.

China has been the world’s largest auto market and producer for five consecutive years, with sales and production both exceeding 20 million units for the first time in 2013.

The rapid economic growth and urbanisation of recent years has seen China become the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and choking pollution has seen a major push by city authorities to cut emissions from car exhausts and reduce fossil fuel reliance.

As a result, it is a good time to introduce gas-electric hybrids or fully electric cars here.

Toyota’s efforts to boost hybrid sales in China are central to its efforts to catch up with Volkswagen, General Motors, Hyundai and Nissan in China. The Japanese carmaker is planning to introduce 15 new models in the country by the end of 2017.


Five-seater
Daimler’s Denza electric car, a local Chinese brand jointly developed with Chinese partner BYD, goes on sale in China in September, retailing at a hefty €42,800 (369,000 yuan), although it will be eligible for local subsidies in China.

“Denza is the first complete vehicle that Daimler has developed together with BYD outside of Germany, ” Thomas Weber, Daimler’s head of research and development, said at Auto China.

The five-seater car will have an operating range of 300km. The average daily driving distance in China is between 50km and 80km a day, so customers will only have to charge the car three times a week.

China has said it plans to have five million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 and has offered subsidies for electric cars that have been developed locally.


Local subsidies
In 2010, Beijing started offering 60,000 yuan (€6,963) handouts to buyers of electric cars, but they are still rare on the streets of the capital, in the absence of charging infrastructure and high battery costs.

The Denza would be eligible for local subsidies of up to almost 120,000 yuan (€13,926), which could be deducted from the vehicle price and makes the Denza suddenly look much more affordable.

Crucially, and something that will really help the brand, the Denza will also be exempted from many of the policies used by local governments to limit the number of new cars on the road, Daimler said.