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New energy vehicles set to roll out
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Seven new energy vehicle models are likely headed for mass production in the next one or two months, according to the latest list of auto manufacturers and models approved by the National Development and Reform Commission for production.

The seven models include Shanghai Volkswagen's fuel cell Passat, Shanghai General Motors' SGM7240, FAW's CA7130, and other four hybrid buses produced by Dongfeng Motor Corp, Beiqi Foton Motor, and Changan Auto. The fuel cell Passat is already set to be the official car for the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, and the SGM7240 may be the hybrid Lacrosse.

FAW Toyota's Prius and Dongfeng Honda's Civic Hybrid are representatives of the current hybrid car market. Since the Prius was released in 2005, only 2,400 units have been sold until now, in contrast to FAW Toyota's 280,000 vehicles sold last year alone in China. The same thing happened to the Civic Hybrid as it is rolled to market at the end of last year.

Both the Prius and the Civic Hybrid consume only 4.7 liters fuel per hundred kilometers, compared with a conventional 1.8-liter Civic, which consumes at least 5.8 liters fuel per hundred kilometers. But most customers are held back by high prices. The Prius' standard version is now sold at 259,800 yuan ($37,220) in Guangzhou and the Civic Hybrid is about the same.

Nonetheless, as environmental friendly development is high on the country's agenda, more and more new energy vehicles will do more than show off at exhibitions.

(Chinadaily.com.cn May 5, 2008)

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