China to resume electric car subsidies 'as soon as April'

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China will resume subsidies for electric car buyers as early as in April, the chairman of BYD Co said on Monday, March 25, as part of government efforts to promote environmentally friendly vehicles.

"The previous subsidy was for 2010 to 2012, so it terminated on Dec 31, 2012. Now, the government is setting up standards and they should be announced in April or May," Mr Wang Chuanfu told reporters on the sidelines of a company event in Hong Kong.

Beijing started offering handouts of 60,000 yuan (S$12,000) to buyers of electric cars three years ago. Some city governments have also been handing out similar subsidies to e-car buyers.

Electric cars, however, are still a rarity in Chinese cities due to the lack of charging facilities and high battery costs.

Details about the exact scope of the subsidies were unclear, Mr Wang said.

BYD also plans to roll out the Denza, an electric car built in partnership with Daimler AG, in the first half of next year, Mr Wang said. The company had previously said the car would hit showrooms this year, but Mr Wang would not say why the proposed launch date had been postponed.

BYD, backed by US billionaire Warren Buffett, said on Sunday that new and upgraded models would help it boost first-quarter profits after a plunge in 2012 earnings.