China automakers go green
The first Chinese-made car to hit the United States market might be an all-electric minivan that skips over gasolene technology and gets a head start on the auto industry's next era.
BYD Inc, part-owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, hopes to start selling its five-seat e6 on the West Coast this year.
The e6, displayed last week at the Beijing auto show, is one of a series of 'green' vehicles being developed by Chinese automakers that run on everything from batteries to solar panels and tiny wind turbines. They lag Western rivals in technology but are working at a frenzied pace to ensure they'll be part of the green automobile age.
"Automakers want to invest because they know it's one area where they can really compete abroad," said Liu Lixi, an auto analyst with Northeast Securities Co in Shanghai.
China, the world's biggest auto market since last year, is emerging as both a major potential buyer of green vehicles and a source of eager, if inexperienced, producers such as BYD, Chery Automobile Co and Volvo buyer Geely.
Beijing is promoting green transportation in hopes of cleaning up its battered environment, reducing surging reliance on imported oil and capturing a share of a promising infant industry with no entrenched competitors.