1 Apr 2013

Project E-Allegro. The new force in Chinese Electric Vehicles

China is putting renewed efforts into clearing its smog-ridden cities of petrol-engined cars with a new electric vehicle initiative expected to be approved this week.

Beijing has already said that it wants the country's car makers to be building and selling five million electric vehicles a year by 2020. Subsidies of up to CNY60,000 per car (£6,300) ran out at the end of 2012 and negotiations on renewing the subsidies were expected to be signed by today (April 1).

But Beijing is understood to be unhappy with the speed of progress since it's more than 12 years since the country launched its 863 EV Project and announced on March 29 that it was considering forming a State-owned company to accelerate the supply of EVs.

Sources suggest that the new company is likely to be based in Shanghai where the target is to have 90 per cent of all cars electric by 2020. The EVs will initially be based on the designs of old models previously produced in the UK, with the aim to continue the success of other British retro-styled models such as the MINI.

The company, whose name translates as China Industries Motor Power (CHIMP), has been tasked with developing lightweight batteries while co-ordinating the activities of the numerous joint venture EV projects between international car makers and their Chinese partners such as FAW-Toyota's Ranz, Beijing-Hyundai's Shouwang, BMW-Brilliance's Zhinuo brand and FAW-Volkswagen's Kaili.

CHIMP's head of research, Lek-Hi, said that they were also negotiating with companies in the UK to help develop the new EV - and wanted to use a quintessentially British design, while using a name familiar to UK buyers. "We want to call it Project E-Allegro to emphasise the need for speed of development, and also to reflect a golden era of automotive manufacturing" he said, noting a Chinese proverb that translates as "there's many a good tune from an old name."