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BYD Starts Sales of E6 Electric Car to Individuals in China

BYD Co., the carmaker partly owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., began selling its all-electric E6 to individuals in China today as it seeks to lead the country’s market for alternative-energy cars.

The E6, which has a range of 300 kilometers (188 miles) per charge, has a sticker price of 369,800 yuan ($58,200), BYD said today in Shenzhen, where it is based. Buyers in the southern Chinese city will qualify for as much as 120,000 yuan in subsidies, according to Li Ganming, a deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission’s Shenzhen branch.

“The E6’s business success will hinge on the availability of infrastructure and continuous improvements such as reducing weight of the battery,” said John Zeng, a Shanghai-based analyst at J.D. Power & Associates.

BYD has plunged 62 percent in Hong Kong trading this year after vehicle sales fell 15 percent in the first nine months as the popularity of its F3 sedan waned with the phasing out of government buying incentives. The company is banking on success in selling electric cars to revive sales as China, the world’s largest polluter, encourages development of alternative-energy automobiles to reduce emissions and fuel imports.

The State Council, or cabinet, is considering a development plan for new-energy vehicles, Su Bo, vice minister of the industry ministry, said on Sept 3.

Government Subsidies

The government aims to have 1 million electric-powered vehicles on China’s roads by 2015, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology. The world’s largest automobile market had more than 10,000 energy-saving and alternative-energy powered vehicles running in 25 trial cities as of July, according to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China announced in June 2010 it would give buyers in Shanghai and four other cities up to 60,000 yuan in subsidies for each electric car they purchase. Buyers of the E6 in Shenzhen will get an additional 60,000 yuan, NDRC’s Li said.

The city has set up more than 60 charging stations, Li said.

“There are still a lot of difficulties we need to tackle in terms of technology and promotion of the E6,” Lian Yubo, senior vice president of BYD, said in Shenzhen today.

BYD has said it plans to appoint dealers in the U.S. this year for the E6 and will export the car and electric buses to the U.S. and Europe next year, with a right-hand drive E6 available in Hong Kong in June.

“The lack of charging facilities is still a big problem, and promotion of electric vehicles will be handicapped till it is solved,” said George Yin, an analyst with BOCOM International Holdings Co. in Beijing. “BYD also needs to lower the price of E6 to make it more competitive to gasoline-powered vehicles to help attract buyers.”

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