Chinese automaker launches own hybrid

ANHUI PROVINCE, CHINA - Chery Automobile Co., China's largest homegrown carmaker, has debuted a new plug-in hybrid model that it says can run up to 150 kilometers (94 miles) on a single charge.

The S18, with a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour (75 mph), can be fully charged at a home electrical outlet within four to six hours, Chery said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The car uses iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries.

"Our electric vehicle uses the world's latest technology, highly efficient energy conservation and is easy to use," Yuan Tao, the company's deputy general manager, said at a ceremony held earlier this week at Chery's headquarters in eastern China's Anhui province.

"The pricing will be very suitable for families," Yuan said in a statement.

Chery did not give details on pricing or timing for introducing the vehicle to the market.

However, the state-run newspaper Shanghai Daily cited an unnamed company official as saying that Chery will first supply the vehicles to government agencies for trial use and then introduce them to the retail market within a year.

It said the compact sedans would cost less than 100,000 yuan (less than $15,000).

China has been pushing automakers for progress on electric vehicles as part of its effort to limit the country's growing dependence on imported oil and to help clear smog from its polluted cities.

Late last year, battery maker turned car company BYD Co. launched China's first homegrown hybrid vehicle for the retail market, the F3DM.

That car, priced at nearly 150,000 yuan ($22,000), can run up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) on its electric engine and its battery can fully charge in nine hours from a regular electrical outlet.

Both Chery and BYD, which is 10 percent owned by Warren Buffett, says their cars can charge much faster at special recharging stations.

As global automakers grapple with their own problems, Chinese companies are moving ahead on their own. Chery and Chrysler LLC called off a proposed partnership last year that was meant to produce a low-cost model in China to be sold under Chrysler's Dodge brand in the United States and Europe.


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