Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker, plans to launch its first pure-electric car in China next year as Beijing steps up pressure on the industry to promote alternatives to gasoline.
The announcement yesterday comes on the eve of the Shanghai auto show, which showcases industry efforts to create electric models with consumer appeal. General Motors Co.'s Buick unit and Ford Motor Co. also have announced new electric vehicles for China this year. The VW model will be the first in a range of electric vehicles in China, said Jochem Heizmann, head of VW's China unit. It is due to be produced under a new brand name with a local partner, state-owned Jianghuai Automotive Corp.
"This will be a new cooperation on pure battery cars," said Heizmann. "Our challenging target is to come, already next year in 2018, to the market with the first car."
China has the world's most aggressive electric car goals. Communist leaders are promoting them to clean up smog-choked cities and in hopes of taking the lead in an emerging technology. Regulators have jolted the industry with a proposal to require electrics to account for at least 8 percent of each brand's production by next year.