[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]
Chery to begin production of budget hybrid this year
As it currently stands, gas in China costs about half what it does in most other countries, and the government spends billions to keep it that way. This being the case, expensive hybrids like the Toyota Prius don't sell in very large numbers. Still, there are a number of analysts who predict that gas will go up in China and that cheaper hybrids could begin to get a foot-hold in the Chinese market. To test the hybrid waters, Chery has introduced its home market to a new inexpensive mild hybrid built off its own A5 platform. Like some of the hybrids from General Motors, the A5 adds a belt-driven starter/generator that runs on just 12 volts and allows for stop/start functionality for its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Chery tested the vehicle during the Olympic games and is apparently now ready to begin selling its first hybrid to retail customers in China at about a third of the cost of the Prius. With pricing like that, the expected 10-15-percent gain in fuel efficiency could provide plenty of incentive to choose a hybrid.