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Is the time right for new energy vehicles?


BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- As China is gearing up for its annual political sessions, smog has become a national concern. Both the government and ordinary people are aware of the need to utilize methods of transportation powered by new energy in a bid to cut down emissions. It seems as though China now has a choice to make.

CRI's Shen Ting has more.

A Beijing resident says that the smog in recent days has been getting worse in China's capital and that one of the major sources for the air pollution is car emissions.

Measures have been implemented in an attempt to cut car emissions. Since 2009, the Chinese government began fostering the development and introduction of new energy vehicles, referring to those vehicles that are partially or fully powered by electricity. However, these vehicles have not yet received good market response.

Liu Chongxi is the president of China Automobile Industry Engineering Corporation. He says new energy vehicles can achieve "zero emissions release", but they have their weaknesses.

"The main problem is the short lifespan of the electric batteries. So, I think the battery issue is an obstacle that will be a difficult one to overcome for the new energy vehicle sector."

Liu is also a member to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. He will render a proposal on the issue of promoting green cars around China to the upcoming top advisory body's annual meeting.

He states if new energy cars received the go ahead for use in the local taxi industry, it would represent a breakthrough in smashing the trade barriers by local governments when it comes to protecting their own auto industries.

"Taxis are running in the city all the time. Due to their high number and long working hours, green cars could save a lot of energy and cut emissions compared with the use of motor vehicles. But the taxi industry is a monopoly industry and local governments tend to only support their own car factories and discourage other non-local car makers to enter the market. I recommend breaking the monopoly and opening the market, then the use of new energy vehicles will be expanded."

Liu believes such move could increase the market space for new energy carmakers, promoting the development of the domestic electric vehicle sector.

Zhao Chunming, a senior engineer from the China Automotive Technology & Research Center, says from a global point of view, the development process of new energy vehicles is still in the exploratory stage, even in developed countries.

"Compared with other countries, the market share of new energy vehicles (in the west) is not higher than that in China, because currently China has done a lot of work to promote green cars and formulate subsidy policies."

Subsidies for new energy passenger cars ranged from 35,000 yuan, or about 5,700 dollars, to 60,000 yuan per vehicle in last year, while buyers of new-energy coaches received subsidies of up to 500,000 yuan.



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