Manufacturing News

Electric vehicles offer new direction for motorists

Not long ago, I had my very first experience of test driving an electric car in suburban Beijing by selecting a premium homemade model Denza, a joint product by BYD Co and Mercedes-Benz's parent company Daimler AG.

Smooth driving, amiable guest services and the attractive post-service guarantee, gave me a strong urge to put an order.

Also, here are a couple of reasons I should have got one:

It will be the second car for my family;

I have been joining the car plate license lottery for my second car for years but failed all the time;

It is rumored that Beijing will resume the alternate car running rules during its five-month-long heating season, which means I would only be able to drive to work every other day;

A sufficient electric-car purchase quota means there is no need to wait for the meager chance to win any lottery;

A pure electric car is eligible for running on the capital's road everyday throughout the year;

Attractive government subsidies are offered to buyers of models such as the Denza, priced between 369,000 yuan ($56,680) to 399,000 yuan, but the government offers a subsidy at around 110,000 yuan per unit;

And most importantly, driving an e-car makes me feel better for being an environmentally friendly driver and an accountable citizen.

Before I put in an order, my husband said: "Think about it, do you really need a second car? or an electric car? or an electric-vehicle license? " I said yes, I need them all.

The thing is, my home, his office and our son's school all in a 2-kilometer radius. Walking and biking are the best way for them to commute every day. Driving my son to school has repeatedly proved a wrong decision since the car will get stuck on the narrow lane.

I'm the only one in my family in real need of driving since my office is about 15 km from home.

"Plus there are parking and charging problems," he said.

As I was wondering, a piece of news about Tesla Model 3 being available for order appeared at the beginning of April. It's sold at $35,000, even cheaper than the Denza, Oh, my gosh, why not buy a Tesla? But it will not roll off the production line until the end of 2017 in Los Angeles. It is estimated the first shipment to China will be 2018. Reservations for Model 3 hit 253,000 units in 36 hours after the news release, even though no one has seen a real car yet.

"I can wait, it's cheaper, better and cooler," I said.

In fact, Tesla is seeking ideal local partner in China for possible local production and to offer more affordable models.

My enthusiasm for electric car was fueled partly by the market boom last year.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China produced 340,471 clean-energy vehicles in 2015, up 3.3 times over that in 2014. Of them, 254,633 units of pure electric cars were produced, up 4.2 times over the previous year. The number of plug-in hybrid production is 85,838 units, almost double that in 2014.

Boosted by the government's supportive policy and subsidy incentives, China has seen an explosive growth for clean-energy vehicles last year. It produced only 83,900 units in 2014 and only 17,500 units in 2013.

Besides conventional carmakers, a group of IT companies are also tapping the clean-energy auto market, making more fancy and sexy models.

Chinese internet company LeEco Holdings Ltd has displayed its latest LeSEE concept car at the ongoing Beijing Auto Show. BYD, the world's largest clean-energy vehicle maker, with sales of 62,000 units last year, is presenting its new model the Yuan and BAIC Group is showing its D80EV.

Of the total number of about 1,200 cars on display at the Beijing show, about 150 units are clean energy, much more than the last show.

"We have so many choices and the market will be more mature in the foreseeable future," my husband said.

I have started to believe that any incentive and subsidy should be a positive message, allowing me to care more about the trend and market, not necessarily the prime time to buy or own.

Since a group of new models will be available, I might be planning more test driving. Even for the driverless car, I want to have a try, why not?

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