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November 7, 2009

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Home » Business » Auto

Green cars may get free plates

SHANGHAI motorists may be able to get a free car plate starting next year if they buy an environmentally friendly new-energy vehicle, a government official said yesterday.

The plan would support both the city's effort to speed the development of green vehicles and also create cleaner skies for the millions of visitors to the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

"We are considering offering free car licenses for new-energy vehicles that meet certain standards," said Chen Hailin, who is in charge of promoting new-energy vehicles at the Shanghai Economics and Information Committee, a key policy-making agency.

The standards have not been defined, and a final decision on the whole plan will have to come from city government.

"The plan would mean auto buyers could register their vehicles in Shanghai without buying a plate through the existing auction scheme," he said during an TV interview.

Shanghai is doing its part in a nationwide campaign to promote green vehicles, including gas-electric hybrids and all-electric cars, as China addresses energy and environmental challenges.

Although the new green cars cost less to operate, they don't appeal to many consumers at present because of their comparatively higher purchase costs.

In addition, the lack of infrastructure, such as charging stations, and safety concerns about the new technologies are also major hurdles that have prevented new-energy vehicles from rolling onto the roads in high numbers.

Industry analysts said city government hopes free car plates would partly offset the higher purchase costs and help make these energy-saving, less-polluting vehicles more attractive to buyers.

The cheapest car plate in Shanghai sold for 33,900 yuan (US$4,970) last month, and analysts expect the price to rise amid robust auto sales.


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