Youngman Automotive Group, China's leading luxury coach and high-quality commercial truck manufacturer, has signed a joint venture agreement with US electric car pioneer ZAP to manufacture, market and distribute electric and hybrid vehicles for the passenger car, truck and bus markets.
The new joint venture company will also focus on the development and manufacture of electric charging infrastructure. The deal includes the manufacture of buses, trucks and passenger vehicles, including the Zap-X crossover SUV.
"We're co-investing $40 million to the joint venture, which will have a research and development center in California and its production base in our headquarters in Jinhua (East China's Zhejiang Province)," said Liu Zhonglai, marketing director of Youngman.
According to Liu, Youngman holds 51 percent of the joint venture and ZAP controls the remainder. "We will add more investment when the electric vehicles go into mass production."
"The sample vehicles will be finished at the end of this year or next January. Two or three months after testing, the electric-powered sedan under the Lotus brand will be the first to go into mass production."
The cooperation made auto industry headlines when California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met with Pang Qingnian, the chairman of Youngman, during his recent visit to China.
"I applaud ZAP and Youngman for bringing the next generation of mass-produced electric vehicles to California," said Schwarzenegger.
"It will be a great achievement for US and Chinese partnership companies to develop and produce electric cars that generate no pollution and save non-renewable oil resources."
Youngman's partnership with Germany's Neoplan controls more than 80 percent of the luxury coach market in China.
Youngman is also the supplier to MAN, Europe's top brand for high-quality commercial trucks.
It began exporting its premier coaches and trucks to North America last year.
This year, it has sent more than 1,000 vehicles to the US.
(China Daily October 12, 2007)