The Chinese auto market is booming. This year�"s Beijing Auto Show, which opened over the weekend, features nearly 100 cars powered by electricity or some other alternative to petroleum. The list of hybrids and electric cars on display looks like a grand vision of what China�"s roadways could look like in the next few years�but the timing is uncertain. Almost all of the advanced fuel-efficient vehicles on display are still in the concept and testing stages.
The challenges facing a green car future in China are illustrated by sales numbers for the F3 sedan from BYD, China�"s fourth largest car company. BYD sells the conventional F3, the country�"s best-selling model, which is priced at about US $9,000, according to Bloomberg. The company also sells the world�"s first mass-market plug-in hybrid, the F3DM (or F3 Dual Mode), which goes for about US $22,000. Considering the price discrepancy, it�"s not surprising that BYD sold fewer than 100 units of the F3DM, and almost 300,000 of the gas-powered F3.
Yet, the green car revolution is just starting in China, as it ramps from nearly no gas-alternatives today�to making hybrid and electric cars 15 percent of its market, according to the goal of the country�"s Ministry of Industry and Technology. Government subsidies for low-emissions vehicles are still in the works.