China's fifth-largest automotive group, Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co (BAIC), has launched a subsidiary called the Beijing New Energy Automotive Company with which it plans to produce as many as 40,000 electric and hybrid cars by 2011. The new company celebrated its birth by showing off an electric sedan dubbed the BE701 that it hopes to sell under its very own "Beijing" brand. The lithium iron phosphate-powered car is said to have a range of 124 miles and is able to reach 100 mph. Using a permanent magnet synchronous motor bolted to a 4-speed automatic transmission, the BE701 can saunter on up to 60 mph in under 15 seconds. The model that attended the ceremony was no mock-up, and Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang got to take the wheel for his own personal test drive (photo here).

The new company, which will also be responsible for green R&D and charging systems, got its own new digs on the outskirts of Beijing. The $334 million facility should have the capacity to crank out up to 100,000 vehicles a year and BAIC is hoping the venture will be add $2.197 billion to their order book by 2015. Pretty ambitious stuff, but the money already invested shows this company is serious. No word yet on whether they will try to sell any models outside of China but with that country now the largest auto market in the world, it may not have too.

[Source: Reuters UK / Science and Technology Daily]

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