A newcomer to the electric vehicle manufacturing sector in China is keen to reduce air pollution levels in the country.
‘The Chinese Elon Musk’ is the nickname now carried by Chinese businessman Jia Yueting, the founder and President of Chinese Internet company Leshi Internet Information & Technology, a major player in the TV and audiovisual streaming business in China. Last month he announced that his company was about to enter the electric vehicle market with its ‘Super Electric Eco-System’ project.
China is today the world’s largest automobile market but as yet there has been little demand from the general public for electric vehicles. Auto manufacturer BYD, the market leader there, sold only
7,600 hybrid and electric vehicles in the first half of 2014. A severe lack of recharging stations for ‘green’ vehicles, combined with protectionist barriers in China has so far tended to deter consumers from adopting this type of vehicle.
Now however, the Beijing government has promised to implement a range of policies designed to encourage people to drive ‘clean energy’ cars. Beijing is trying to nurture the market by offering tax breaks on purchases of electric cars made by Chinese companies and has also ordered government officials to make greater use of ‘green’ transport as part of a drive to put 5 million such cars on the road by 2020. In addition, in a bid to encourage innovation, the government is now granting licences authorising companies other than auto manufacturers to enter the vehicle market. Leshi has spent one year developing its electric car, and unveiling it now seems to be perfect timing, as the government’s announced anti-pollution policies are likely to help sales considerably.
A Leshi development team is currently carrying out further work on the new electric vehicle in Silicon Valley. The car will be Internet-connected and will feature a number of touchscreens on the dashboard. The car will be marketed at a ‘reasonable price’, says the company. For the moment, Jia Yueting is not giving out any details, but says that he plans to ‘redefine the automobile industry’ and at the same time improve overall air quality in China.