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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Daimler firms up plans for electric car in China

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Daimler firms up plans for electric car in China

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

Daimler AG and China's BYD Co. firmed up their plans Thursday to develop and produce electric cars for the Chinese market.

The heads of the automakers signed an accord in Beijing to form a joint venture to produce the vehicles under a new, jointly owned brand.

The Chinese government is encouraging the development of clean cars and has outlined objectives for selling 500,000 electric car in China annually by 2015.

"Our new joint venture is well positioned to make the most of the vast potential of electric mobility," Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said in a statement.

Several automakers have plans to develop electric cars for the Chinese market, but some are waiting to see what incentives the government will offer. It was scheduled to announce them in January, but is now expected to detail them in the summer.

Depending on what measures the government adopts to make electric cars affordable, China could become the biggest electric-car market in the world, Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, said in Detroit this week.

Daimler and BYD, a Chinese carmaker backed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, announced in March that they would develop electric cars together. They already have teams of engineers working on a concept, and they are building a technology center in China.

Daimler brings expertise in electric-car architecture to the venture, while BYD is a leading producer of batteries and already makes electric cars.

"BYD is a clear front-runner in this regard in China," Zetsche told reporters last month at the Beijing auto show.

Daimler and BYD will invest $86 million initially in the 50-50 venture, Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co.

"Together we are pushing hard to bring this new electric vehicle to market as soon as possible," said BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu said in the statement.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100528/AUTO01/5280348/1148/Daimler-firms-up-plans-for-electric-car-in-China#ixzz0pELYC33t

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