Minth Is First Parts Maker to Win China Electric Car Permit

  • Minth’s unit Min An Auto plans to sell first model in 2018
  • China has given five companies permission under EV-only scheme

China-based Minth Group Ltd. became the first car-parts maker to receive permission from the nation’s top economic planner to produce electric vehicles under a special scheme to encourage companies outside auto manufacturing to develop new-energy vehicles.

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Jiangsu Min’An Automotive Co., owned equally by the local government where it is based and Hong Kong-traded Minth Group, received approval from the National Development and Reform Commission to assemble electric vehicles, according to a notice on the agency’s website Tuesday.

Min’An Auto, based in Huai’an in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, plans to invest a total of 2.5 billion yuan ($360 million) to produce as many as 150,000 vehicles a year, with the first model targeted for sale in 2018, according to its website. It’s planning an SUV, sports car and logistics vehicle, according to renderings and specifications posted on the website.

China’s promotion of new-energy vehicles has attracted the likes of Jack Ma, Terry Gou, Li Ka-shing and Jia Yueting among investors who’ve poured at least $2 billion into building greener autos as the world’s largest auto market tries to combat smog and reduce its reliance on imported oil. For Minth, the foray into vehicle assembly marks its attempt to diversify from its main business supplying trims and decorative auto parts.

Minth Group was founded by Chin Jong Hwa, who stepped down as chairman in May but remains the largest shareholder in the company with a 39 percent stake. The company supplies auto parts such as windshield molding and fender trims and counts carmakers including Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG as its customers.

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Besides Min’An Auto, others that have received the approval are Beijing Electric Vehicle Co., Hangzhou Changjiang Passenger Vehicle Co., Beijing CH-Auto Technology Co. and a unit of Chery Automobile Co.

Minth said it was aware of the NDRC approval but has yet to receive official notification from the regulator. Zhang Xueping, general manager of Min’An Auto, declined to comment.

— With assistance by Yan Zhang, and Ying Tian

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