Chery Auto, China’s largest maker of own-brand cars, will start selling its first plug-in electric car model S18 around June, 2010, as the government urges automakers to offer more eco-friendly vehicles, Bloomberg reported today.

The company expects to sell about 30,000 S18 electric cars within three or four years, Fang Yunzhou, vice president of Chery’s new energy vehicle operations, said in an interview in Shanghai today. The car will cost as much as 130,000 yuan ($19,000). Chery unveiled the S18 model in February.

China has been supporting its automakers’ investments in new-energy vehicles to curb oil imports, reduce pollution and to help the local industry challenge global automakers’ products, such as the [GM] Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius in the PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) market.

BYD, the leading Chinese maker of electric cars, started selling the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid F3DM in December 2008 to government and corporate buyers and will sell it to individual customers from this month. Its e6 electric car will be sold in the U.S. next year.

The Chery S18 can travel as far as 150 km (93 miles) using just its batteries. Plug-in cars can be recharged from standard household powerpoints. The S18 can be fully charged in as little as four hours.

Source: Gasgoo


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