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Chinese Production Of Plug-In Electric Cars Finally Starts To Grow

After years of encouragement through government policies, Chinese production of plug-in electric cars is finally starting to grow.

Venucia E30 (Chinese version of Nissan Leaf electric car), Guangzhou Auto Show [photo: ChinaAutoWeb]

Amidst rampant air pollution, the Chinese government has heavily incentivized electrified vehicles, but so far that hasn't won the interest of consumers.
That appears to be changing, as production of electric cars and plug-in hybrids soared in the first eight months of 2014, according to trade journal Automotive News China (sub. required).
Data from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology shows 25,946 plug-in cars produced in China through August, an increase of 328 percent.
In August alone, 5,191 plug-ins were produced in China, about 11 times the number produced in the same month last year.
August's total included 2,447 battery-electric and 1,594 plug-in hybrid passenger cars, as well as 284 battery-electric commercial trucks, and 866 plug-in hybrid trucks.
However, while increased production is a good sign, sales figures were not published.
Those figures could be an important part of the story, as sales of "new energy vehicles"--including battery-electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel-cell cars--have been sluggish despite significant government subsidies.
Officials recently decided to extend electric-vehicle subsidies previously set to expire in 2015. Car buyers are currently eligible for up to 60,000 yuan (about $9,800), although that amount may change when the program is reorganized.
More recently, the government created an additional tax break for certain vehicles, mostly from local brands. In addition to spurring electric-car adoption, it reinforces efforts by President Xi Jinping to encourage purchases from local brands.
Despite the buyer resistance seen so far, carmakers are optimistic about China. Both BMW and Tesla Motors believe it could become one of the world's largest markets for electric cars