• Dec 12th 2010 at 1:04PM
  • 15
To say that sales of alt-energy vehicles in China have been dismal would be an understatement. Despite investing million into advanced alternative fuel powertrains, the Global Times reports that many Chinese automakers are facing the tough decision to either ditch their green car plans or continue on with sales that are far below expectations.

Due to poor sales volume, Changan Auto has pulled the plug on its hybrid Jiexun. According to the company, not a single Jiexun was sold during the last year. BYD faces similar struggles, reporting that it has sold only 54 E6 electric vehicles and just 290 F3DM plug-in hybrids between January and October of this year. Even Toyota admits that Prius sales volume, which has been at less than 4,000 for each of the past three years, is below the company's expectations.

Many Chinese automakers have voiced concerns and are calling upon the government to help boost sales of advanced-technology vehicles. So far, however, buyers have shown little interest in purchasing the high-tech rides that often come with steep price tags.

Source: Global Times]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      How much is about $12,000USD in Chinese currency as opposed to their yearly income, I wonder? Because then we'd have a better idea of the impact that cost of the BYD F3DM would be on their pocketbook. They would be able to pocket the cost of the fuel saved within 6 months if they drive a decent amount, wouldn't they?

      The Chinese government will need to offer bigger consumer incentives and/or start finding their own oil, which is a big and wide project but certainly seems within their grasp. Any large country with a lot of people and large chunks of wealth residing with some entities could get together and find new world order methods of producing and distributing their own motor oil/gasoline/assemblies for all-electric vehicles, right? Sounds like certain people with power and huge pockets of grassroots groups need to dig in even harder on this issue for their greater good.

      So do Americans, for that matter.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah, this is disheartening news, and shows that cost really seems to reign supreme in emerging markets (to no one's surprise, perhaps). It's a bit ominous, because in many ways the green car industry will live or die in China...
      • 4 Years Ago
      China has the world's second greatest coal deposits (after ours). Coal can be made at reasonable cost into methanol fuel, which burns without smoke, the cause of smog, and without emitting sulfur, the cause of acid rain. Adding methanol fuel compatibility to a new car at the factory costs automakers about $130 per car. China is a leader in methanol fuel. China must import oil through US-controlled sea lanes, and in the process enrich radical Islamist governments and groups bent on radicalizing China's northwest. Methanol is dirt-cheap, far cheaper than gasoline, even after taking mileage into account.

      When will China's leadership connect the dots and realize that the cheapest and easiest option to get off oil for them is nit to oush EVs but just to mandate flex fuel as a standard feature for all cars sold there?
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Chinese do not like to spend money for extras they don't consider worthwhile such as a hybrid that offers very little benefit and probably a negarive ROI on the extra cost. Their gasoline prices have been subsidized and held artificially low, being as low as US gas prices. Something is at play here if they don't even buy Priuses? Pri-ii? Whatever LOL

      As for EVs, their problem is not range anxiety (yes, now I owe GM $1 for using the term too LOL). The Chinese are almost totally apartment dwellers in the cities and even the people with a "home" have no garage or place to plug it in. They would have to have a huge, existing infrastructure of rapid charging stations before anyone could even consider it realistically.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I get the feeling that a lot of people in China buy cars that they rarely drive. They bike, walk, or take public transport for work. The cars are a luxury & status item for trips on weekends.

      They love their cars and appreciate them. But they are not slaves to their cars who need them for commuting and have to constantly feed them fuel. And that is really the way it should be. And if you use your car that way, you really don't need an electric car.

      Electric cars are much more important for people that drive them all the time for commuting & errands.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's a bit goofy of an assessment for them to make.

      The Chinese government is planning to push BEVs. They are going to focus on a few cities first, simultaneously building out the local charging infrastructure and offering massive subsidies for the purchase of a pure BEV - $8800 in five cities ( http://energypolicyinfo.com/2010/06/days-after-u-s-ev-bills-introduced-china-initiates-5-city-ev-pilot-program/) and two others, Shenzhen and Beijing, will match that with an additional $8800. Chery is just coming out with their CBAK powered BEV.

      Year one Chery expects to sell at least 10,000.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The average selling price of a car in China is much lower than here, so it's no surprise. Many people in China, are buying a car for their first time, so if they had a choice between a car that costs $8,000 or $20,000, what do you think they are going to choose.

      Not sure how they can get around this problem, unless the government steps forward with a much larger subsidy.

      It's a critical time for their auto industry, to have decent sales in this area, so that R&D can be done, to help increase the technology, and help bring the price down.
      • 4 Years Ago
      And this should be surprising to exactly no one. The Chinese consumer market is one of the most price sensitive around. New tech for electric cars isn't generally cost effective right now. Most people don't buy hybrids or electrics because of cost or price. They buy them because they don't want to pollute or don't want to continue giving money to middle east states that don't mesh with their morals. I don't know the Chinese market extremely well, but it doesn't strike me as particularly driven by morals and "intangibles". The Chinese consumer is nothing if not pragmatic.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Stop subsidizing oil, China. That will help you with this.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the adoption of EVs in China has been hindered by poor marketing, lack of warranties concerning EV purchases, and improperly placed infrastructure - not necessarily the price point as some have stated.

      BYD, the manufacturer of the FD3M and the upcoming E6 has been plagued by delays, which only serve to increase the concern of consumers. In Shenzhen, where BYD sells the F3DM, the national and local subisidies serve to reduce the ticket price from 16,000 yuan to a little south of 8,000 yuan (12,000 USD). While this is slightly more expensive than the gas-powered F3 model (6,000-9,000 yuan), savings from reduced fuel use as well as less upkeep costs should make up the difference. The real problem, in my opinion, is that BYD is targeting the wrong market.

      When it comes to purchasing new innovative technology, whether it be computers, TVs, flat screens, or cars, the wealthy generally lead the charge. They have the excess income necessary to purchase new technology without worrying about how poor overall adoption will complicate their everyday life. EVs should first be marketed as status symbols and later as practical alternatives to gas-powered vehicles. A luxury EV can offer faster acceleration, innovative interiors which incorporate high end features like wifi and iphone connectivity, as well as the uniqueness that wealthy car buyers seek. The luxury market in China is exploding; BYD should take advantage of this.

      Another key problem is infrastructure. While Shenzhen has committed to building 20,000 charging stands and 78 stations by 2012, many of these are planned for commercial locations, which many have argued cannot be used as an alternative to at home charging. Supposedly, citizens can apply to have stands installed in their residential block, but one can imagine this process is not easy. A better model would be to have partnerships between high-end apartment complexes, EV manufacturers, and the local grid company, whereby a certain number of charging locations are created within the apartment parking garage. Accordingly, potential buyers would be assured of ample recharging locations. This may even create a competition among residents for those EV charging spots.

      One final point, car warranties in China are much shorter (2-3 years) and less extensive than those found in the US (8-10 years, 100,000 mile). If a large company like BYD was to break this mold and offer a more Western-style warranty, this should serve to increase consumer confidence.

      I think EVs will be very successful in China. However, current vehicle offerings and infrastructure plans treat EVs like modified gas-powered vehicles. I think some awareness that the adoption of EVs will involve considerable shifts in how people travel, recharge, and evaluate vehicle purchases will go a long way towards swaying the opinion of consumers. In short, trying to make EVs as similar to gas-powered vehicles as possible may not be the best approach.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like a job for...

      Gas Tax
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Chinese government has heavily subsidized the fuel prices, keeping it artificially low, but recently have started to cut back on subsidies and let the prices rise. Predictably, the people have been squawking, particularly those who bought big SUVs, but the government has no choice.

        Eventually they'll have to stop subsidies altogether and start taxing their fuel, then we'll see a change in car buying habits.
      • 4 Years Ago
      China has a great interest to ensure they don't end up on the same boat we are in - importing two-thirds of their fuel from the Middle East. I'm sure they will push harder for a CAFE-like approach. I would be interested to learn what and how they had addressed the "range anxiety" (I owe GM $1.00 for using that term I believe) in their country.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Their solution seems to be extreme urban density; their cities make NYC look like a sprawlfest :P

        Range anxiety is not the problem for them though.. purchase price is!
        • 4 Years Ago
        They've already addressed that issue. They've traveled the globe buying up a massive amount of the world's oil resources as part of an 17th-century, export-centric economic arrangement called "mercantilism".

        Unfortunately for the rest of the world, the Chinese are quite inept at developing oil resources. They are reducing global supply, and raising prices all over the world. Since China imports half of it's oil, the rising prices are impoverishing the Chinese as well.

        Mercantilism has always failed so it comes as no surprise that this is happening. BTW, we have more oil shale reserves than the rest of the proven reserves on earth........combined. At the very least, we should be looking into b/c the Chinese are making the global oil industry extremely volatile with their 17th century business practices.
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