China to Soon Approve Production Licenses for Electric Carmakers

China will soon approve production licenses for a new batch of electric car manufacturers as part of its push to promote the emission-free technology.

More than 10 companies have applied for the manufacturing permits, Miao Wei, the minister for industry and information technology, said in a briefing in Beijing on Thursday. The licenses, meant only for the production of electric vehicles, would be first to be handed out since the government said in 2009 it will encourage consolidation and curb overcapacity in the industry.

China has made the development of electric cars a strategic initiative as part of broader plans to lead in the automotive technology, curb pollution and reduce dependence on imported oil. Electric-car purchases have lagged behind government targets despite subsidies doled out to both automakers and consumers in part due to concerns about the lack of access to charging facilities.

Last month, the State Council, or cabinet, said it will add to subsidies aimed at speeding up the building of electric-car recharging stations, targeting enough infrastructure to handle 5 million plug-in vehicles by 2020.

Back in March, Miao said the government will encourage Internet companies to develop electric vehicles as they have the potential to inject innovation into the auto industry and spur competition.

— With assistance by Tian Ying

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