UPDATE 1-China to resume electric car subsidies - BYD chairman

(Adds details on China’s new energy car objectives)

HONG KONG, March 25 (Reuters) - 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 been postponed.

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)