(Adds details of the policy, context)
By Samuel Shen and Norihiko Shirouzu
SHANGHAI/BEIJING, Sept 17 (Reuters) - China has renewed private-buyer subsidies for “new energy” or electric-powered vehicles for another three years, in part to fight air pollution, but contrary to some expectations did not include gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.
China’s central government announced on Tuesday it will provide up to 60,000 yuan ($9,800) for the purchase of an all-electric battery car and up to 35,000 yuan for a “near all-electric” plug-in vehicle.
The policy is expected to benefit Chinese carmakers including SAIC Motor Corp and BYD Co Ltd , the Warren Buffett-backed company best known for its electric cars.
Despite views that China was warming to conventional gasoline-electric hybrid cars after subsidies failed to boost sales of all or near-electric vehicles, the renewed rebate programme will not provide support for the fuel-saving hybrid technology pioneered by Toyota Motor Corp on its Prius model two decades ago.
The government will also give as much as 500,000 yuan for an electric bus, according to a statement the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) posted on its website.
The programme, which runs through to end-2015, renews a three-year programme that expired at the end of last year, but with some tweaks. The key difference was the inclusion of hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles, for which the government said it would provide as much as 500,000 yuan in rebates.
Some industry experts said there is still a possibility that the government might announce a separate purchase incentive programme later for conventional hybrid vehicles.
They said China needed to if it was to meet its goal of putting half a million new-energy vehicles, defined as all-electric battery vehicles and heavily electrified “near all-electric” plug-in hybrids, on the road by 2015 and 5 million by 2020.
China had about 27,800 new-energy vehicles at the end of 2012, 80 percent of which were buses, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The policy is aimed at “accelerating the development of new-energy vehicles, promoting energy saving and reducing air pollution,” said the statement, jointly issued by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, and MIIT.
China has unveiled a series of measures in recent months to curb pollution, including plans to expand curbs on gasoline-fueled car sales to more cities, and closing or upgrading production facilities at 1,200 companies in Beijing. ($1 = 6.1203 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Samuel Shen in Shanghai and Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; editing by David Evans)