Shandong introduces e-bike subsidy

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Shandong province is the latest of 10 Chinese provinces to provide a subsidy on rural electric bicycle purchases, and it was just the incentive Song Yingxue, a farmer in the east China province, needed to buy a 2,410 yuan (US$361) "luxury" - the e-bike.

With the subsidy, which Shandong put into effect this week, rural consumers like Song can get a 13-percent "discount" on e-bikes. It used to take Song 50 minutes get to work on her old bicycle, but now it only takes 20 minutes.

"I like the spot lamp best. It makes the bike safer than traditional ones, and is very useful when riding on dark countryside roads," she said. China's State Council designated 10 pilot provinces mainly in central and eastern parts of China in April to promote "E-bikes Going To Countryside" program by providing the subsidy. The program will run till February 2013.

Except for Hubei province in central China, all the other pilot provinces have started the program.

"Farmers who used to favor motorcycles now turn to e-bikes, because fuel prices have kept rising," said Tian Shuchang, sales manager of Shandong-based Xinri Electric Bicycle Company. He said that the company predicted a 50-percent increase in sales in the rural township market due to the subsidy.

Tian said there were still problems that held e-bike consumption back in the countryside. For example, the rural areas lacked maintenance centers for e-bikes.

China currently has 120 million e-bikes. More than 20 million e-bikes were sold in the country last year.

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