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Volkswagen to launch all-electric car in China next year

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Germany’s Volkswagen (VW) plans to launch its first all-electric car in China next year with its new joint venture partner, state-owned Jianghuai Automotive Corp. (JAC).

General Motors’ (GM) Buick unit, which together with Volkswagen are the leading foreign automakers in China, and Ford Motor Co. have already announced new electric vehicles for China this year.

The VW model will be the first in a range of electric vehicles to be produced in China, but under a new brand name, said Jochem Heizmann, head of VW’s China unit.

“This will be a new cooperation on pure battery cars,” Heizmann said.

In 2016, JAC sold 18,369 pure-electric vehicles, out of total vehicle sales of 643,342 units. JAC also has a strategic partnership with Chinese start-up company Next EV.

Volkswagen’s other Chinese joint ventures, with SAIC Motor Corp. and China FAW Group Corp., will produce electric vehicles built on Volkswagen’s EMB platform for electric cars in 2020 or 2021.

VW said it expects annual sales of at least 400,000 “new energy vehicles” by 2020 and 1.5 million by 2025. The term new energy vehicles refer to electric or gasoline-electric hybrids.

Foreign carmakers are facing pressure from Chinese regulators to help local partners create indigenous brands. The announcement to create a new brand under the VW-JAC joint venture follows a similar move by Mercedes- Benz, GM and Nissan Motor Co.

To encourage foreign OEMs to help develop China’s electric vehicle industry, Chinese regulators have allowed them to form additional joint ventures with local partners. In 2018, China plans to introduce a California-style carbon-trading scheme that will require automakers with sales exceeding 50,000 vehicles to produce electric vehicles locally.

China has an ambitious plan to go electric, in its attempt to arrest the country’s air pollution problems, especially in the key cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

At the 17th International Automobile & Manufacturing Technology Exhibition (Auto Shanghai 2017), which runs from April 21-28, almost every global and Chinese automotive brand will display at least an electric-vehicle concept car, if not a commercial model.

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