By on September 17, 2010

Despite the worse than lackluster uptake of EVs in China, and disappointing sales of hybrids in the Middle Kingdom, companies and the government are still convinced that electric cars are the wave of the future. Toyota will join the fray and will introduce an electric vehicle in China, Vice Chairman Katsuaki Watanabe told The Nikkei [sub]. While announcing that Toyota will enter the electric vehicle market in 2012, Watanabe said, “we’re favorably considering a move into China as well.” It’s not that the market is screaming for plug-ins, or even hybrids.

Toyota introduced their Prius in China in 2005, but sold only around 300 last year. According to the Nikkei, Toyota “will incorporate local consumer preferences into the electric and plug-in models in an effort to boost its Chinese sales of green cars.” Local consumer preferences are indeed a problem: They don’t want the new energy cars. BYD’s sales of pure plugins are non-existent, their hybrid sales are a disaster. BYD’s best selling car, the F3, runs on pump gas.

Toyota will initially export EVs from Japan to China (which will make them even more expensive) and will focus “on those cities possessing infrastructure for recharging the vehicles.” And those are? Later, they want to produce EVs locally.

Sales for a plug-in hybrid based on the Prius will begin on a trial basis in China this year, mainly targeting local governments and companies. Good luck with that also. Japan is not in China’s best graces after a Chinese ship rammed a Japanese coast guard cutter (or vice versa) and after the Chinese captain was arrested.

China will spend  $14b through 2020 to promote cars that run on fuels other than gasoline. But the Chinese government has made it pretty clear that the money will go to cars made in China. Even with lavish subsidies, the Chinese ignored new energy cars so far and prefer good old gasoline.

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