China’s Premier Li Says Governments Should Use New-Energy Cars

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said governments should take a leading role in promoting alternative energy-powered vehicles, according to a statement posted on the central government’s website yesterday.

“New-energy vehicles, especially buses, can help improve urban problems of pollution and noise and therefore everyone should be encouraged to use it,” Li was cited as saying during a visit to a unit of automaker BYD Co. yesterday in the northern Chinese city of Xi’an.

China plans to have 5 million alternative energy-powered automobiles by 2020. Li’s comments reiterate a policy to have local public authorities take the lead in using alternative-energy vehicles.

China’s provinces and biggest cities have been given targets to cut concentrations of some air pollutants by 5 percent to 25 percent by 2017 compared with 2012 levels. An increasing number of Chinese cities have introduced emergency measures to fight smog.

BYD Co., backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said this month that it had failed to qualify for local incentives in Beijing and Shanghai. Government subsidies are important because of the high cost of building electric vehicles and charging stations.

The automaker in October forecast full-year profit will surge as much as 619 percent on improved car sales and narrowing losses in its solar-energy business. Its Hong Kong-traded shares surged 63 percent last year and closed at HK$34.95 yesterday, down 2.1 percent on the day.

— With assistance by Alfred Cang

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