(Adds details on China's new energy car objectives)
By Alison Leung and Fang Yan
HONG KONG, March 25 China may resume subsidies
for electric car buyers as early as next month, said the
chairman of BYD Co Ltd , which has a
partnership with Daimler AG to build a car running
solely on batteries.
"The previous subsidy was for 2010 to 2012, so it terminated
on Dec. 31, 2012. Now, the government is setting up standards
and they should be announced in April or May," Wang told
reporters on the sidelines of a company event in Hong Kong on
Monday, without saying where he got the information.
Beijing started offering 60,000 yuan ($9,700) handouts to
buyers of electric cars three years ago in its bid to fight
pollution and reduce the country's reliance on pricy oil that's
mostly imported. But electric cars are still a rarity in China
due to the lack of charging facilities and high battery costs.
A renewal of the subsidy programme, which industry insiders
and experts have widely anticipated, would come hand-in-hand
with China's so-called new energy policy that aims to put
500,000 such new energy cars on the road by 2015 and as many as
5 million of them by 2020. The policy was announced last July.
Beijing defines new energy cars as all electric battery cars
and plug-in hybrids. Conventional gasoline-electric hybrids such
as Toyota Motor Corp's Prius are not counted.
China is committed to those aggressive goals to kick-start
demand for electric cars and is unlikely to waver on them
because it has only been less than a year since it formalised
the 2015 and 2020 objectives, industry executives say.
They say that for China to achieve those goals, it is likely
to broaden the definition of new energy cars to include
conventional gasoline-electric hybrids.
BYD's Wang said on Monday that his company plans to roll out
the Denza, an electric car built with Daimler, in the first half
of next year.
The company had previously said the car would hit show rooms
this year. Wang would not say why the proposed launch date had
BYD, backed by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, said on
Sunday that new and upgraded models would help boost its
first-quarter profit after a plunge in 2012 earnings.
($1 = 6.2122 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Alison Leung; Writing by Fang Yang and Norihiko
Shirouzu; Editing by Miral Fahmy and Ryan Woo)