• Prospective buyers look at a Qin plug-in hybrid at an auto outlet in Shanghai.

Prospective buyers look at a Qin plug-in hybrid at an auto outlet in Shanghai. (Photo : www.wantchinatimes.com)

Data released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) indicated that demand for locally built electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles are increasing based on figures submitted by individual automakers.

Industry analysts and experts, however, believe that auto manufacturers have exaggerated the green vehicle production figures.

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An official with the Shanghai-based China Passenger Car Association told media that some automakers have inflated green vehicle production and sales figures by up to 20 percent.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) also expressed similar concerns, as it suspended its monthly report on China production and sales of EVs, plug-in hybrids and fuel cells in April and May. The association said that it wanted to verify the numbers, but a few automakers were not "cooperative."

When CAAM resumed releasing its report in June, it said that only 19,153 EVs and plug-in hybrids were produced in China in June, a number lower than the one provided by the ministry.

According to CAAM, many consumers are buying more EVs and plug-in hybrids than before. EV sales jumped 290 percent to 46,219 vehicles, while plug-in hybrid deliveries rose 190 percent to 26,492, in the first half of the year.

The report, however, said that the recent spike does not mean that consumers are interested in green wheels.

BAIC Motor Corp., China's largest EV maker by sale, said that they have sold 6,223 electric cars in the first half of this year. Most of the EVs were sold in Beijing.

Most of BAIC's EVs were sold in Beijing where it is headquartered. But car shoppers in Beijing have purchased a BAIC EV not because they wanted to, but because they had to.

Local governments encourage Chinese consumers to buy EVs and hybrid vehicles to allay traffic congestion and reduce emission. In Beijing, the municipal government has limited the sales of traditional cars to only 20,000 per month, and for residents to buy a car, they must apply through lottery.

The sales of BYD Co.'s Qin plug-in hybrid have reportedly reached 16,477 in the first six months, which account for 62 percent of plug-in hybrid volume in China. More than half of the Qins were sold in Shanghai.

According to the report, car buyers are motivated to buy Qin despite the lack of battery charging stations in Shanghai because the city government offers a free plate, in addition to the subsidy of 61,500 yuan for the vehicle, which has a starting price of 209,800 yuan ($33,839).