(Yicai Global) July 25 -- Gree Electronic Appliances Inc. [SZE:000651], China's biggest maker of air-conditioners, has developed a prototype new energy vehicle that it may consider mass-producing.
The small car is already undergoing trials, Ms. Dong Mingzhu, chairman and president of Zhuhai-based Gree, said at a press conference on July 23. The research and development is being done in Zhuhai and it will still take some time before the car goes into mass production, she said.
Gree said in March it planned to buy Zhuhai Yinlong New Energy Co., which makes lithium batteries and produces new energy buses. Gree has not given any details about the acquisition until now. Ms. Dong said Gree was buying Yinlong because of its long-life, fast-charging battery technology. Batteries in electric cars generally need replacing every 3 to 5 years, while Yinlong's are said to last for 20 years.
China aims to become the world's biggest electric car market. Sales in the country, a heavily subsidized market, surged four-fold to more than 247,000 green vehicles last year, compared with 115,000 sold in the US. Established players such as BYD Auto Co. [SHE:002594], the country's biggest maker of plug-in vehicles, is being pursued by new market entrants including Gree, television maker Hong Kong Skyworth Digital Holdings Co. [HKG:0751] and tech firm LeEco (the brand name of Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp. [SHE:300104]).
Ms. Dong also expects Gree to provide China's best numerical controlled machine tools in two years. "The most conspicuous character of [Gree's] intelligent equipment is that behind this robot all key parts are designed and produced by ourselves, based on our capability of self-innovation," she said.