Driven to distraction by China electric cars

The great Chinese road trip is about to begin. In the next fortnight, tens of millions of motorists will shortly join at least 1bn others heading home for that mother of all Chinese holidays: lunar new year.

My bronchial passages congest at the mere notion of so many pollution producers taking to the roads all at once. So I was delighted to learn that China’s State Grid had finished building quick-charging stations for electric cars along the 1,200km motorway from Shanghai to Beijing — and eager to give the vehicles a test drive. Xinhua, the state news agency, crowed proudly about the completion of 50 stations capable of charging eight cars each in 30 minutes flat.

And about time too: China is the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles, and nouveau riche renminbi have poured into purchases of the Tesla model S, the coolest green motorcar on the block. For at least a decade, Beijing has been decanting subsidies into the creation of a homegrown electric vehicle industry, hoping to leapfrog conventional engines and go straight to world dominance of green car technology. And China’s air pollution problem is so big that it must, like the Great Wall, be visible from space. So selling electric cars here ought to be about as easy as selling protective face masks. But it’s not. Continue reading Driven to distraction by China electric cars

Paris restricts car use after pollution hits high

Alternative driving days are being introduced in the French capital, Paris, in an attempt to tackle dangerous levels of air pollution.

From Monday, drivers will only be able to use their vehicles every other day.

This is only the second time since 1997 that such a restriction has been enforced. Continue reading Paris restricts car use after pollution hits high

GM rolls out China-developed electric car in world’s top auto market

(Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N) rolled out its first China-developed electric car at the Guangzhou autoshow on Thursday as it ramps up its green car push in the world##Q##s largest auto market.

The Sail Springo EV, with a starting price tag of 258,000 yuan ($41,400), will be initially available only at GM##Q##s dealer outlets in Shanghai, the U.S. automaker said in a statement.

The car, developed and built by GM and its partner SAIC Motor Corp Ltd (600104.SS), has a range of 130-200 kilometres and a top speed of 130 kilometres per hour.

Encouraged by Beijing##Q##s initiative to put 5 million electric and plug-in hybrids on the road by 2020, many domestic and foreign automakers are gearing up to tap the potential of green cars. SAIC launched its Roewe E50 electric car with a price tag of 234,900 yuan around two weeks ago.

Warren Buffett-back BYD Co Ltd (1211.HK) (002594.SZ) had also rolled out a financing package recently that allows fleet operators to buy its pricy electric car e6 in instalments.

Earlier in the year, GM launched its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid in China.

($1 = 6.2302 Chinese yuan)