Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Electric cars: CH-Auto, China’s first home-grown electric sports car

  • First car will go into production in late 2016 
  • CH-Auto Technology Co. has a track record. It has designed gasoline-powered cars for Chinese manufacturers including Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Jiangling Motors Corp. and a Dongfeng Motor Group. joint venture.
  • British auto maker Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. also has plans for an electric sports car that it will sell in China and everyone from Tesla Motors Inc. to Toyota Motor Corp. have big plans to expand electric-car sales here. Aston Martin Chief Executive Andy Palmer said he was aware of at least two other companies in addition to CH-Auto looking into similar electric-car projects.
Sales of electric vehicles in China rose to 18,000 units last year, quadruple the number in 2013, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

But success for electric-car makers in China—including Tesla—remains elusive. Shenzhen-based BYD Co., backed by renowned investor Warren Buffett, has struggled for years to gain traction. Last year BYD sold around 21,000 pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, according to the company. Tesla sold 32,733 vehicles globally last year. It doesn’t disclose sales figures for China, but for the year, Asia as a whole supplied 15% of Tesla’s sales.

Challenges include the high price of most electric vehicles, as well as difficulty in developing infrastructure such as charging stations for a nation as vast as China.

This week, CH-Auto displayed three cars, including a high-tech two-seater that it said runs on a 48-kilowatt-hour battery and can go from zero to 100 kilometers an hour in 4.6 seconds. It claims a range of 250 kilometers (155 miles) and can be recharged in six hours using a standard 220-volt power supply.

The company didn’t reveal the price, saying only that it will be significantly cheaper than imported sports cars.

Industry analysts expect the Event to be priced around 700,000 yuan, or about $115,000. A Maserati Gran Turismo sports car, by comparison, costs 1.95 million yuan in China.

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