BEIJING (Reuters) - Daimler
DENZA, a local Chinese brand jointly developed with Chinese partner BYD <002594.SZ>, forms part of the German auto maker's push to expand its footprint in the world's largest car market, and to boost economies of scale for electric cars.
Speaking at Auto China, the car show held in Beijing on Sunday, Thomas Weber, Daimler's head of research and development, said: "DENZA is the first complete vehicle that Daimler has developed together with BYD outside of Germany."
The 5-seater car will be produced by Shenzen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. Ltd, and will have an operating range of 300 km (190 miles), Daimler said. It said the average daily driving distance in China is 50 to 80 km a day, so customers will only have to charge the car twice a week.
Rapid economic growth and urbanization have turned China into the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, resulting in polluted cities and prompting the government to seek ways to promote low-emission vehicles in an effort to cut back smog.
China has said it plans to have 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 and has offered local subsidies for electric cars that have been developed locally.
In 2010, Beijing started offering 60,000 yuan ($9,700) handouts to buyers of electric cars, but they are still a rarity
due to the lack of charging infrastructure and high battery costs.
On Sunday, Daimler said the DENZA would be eligible for local subsidies totaling up to almost 120,000 renminbi ($19,500), which could be deducted from the vehicle price.
The DENZA will also be exempted from many of the policies used by local governments to limit the number of new cars on the road, Daimler said. It will be awarded a license plate in Beijing without having to go through the mandatory lottery process for conventional vehicles, and it will even get free license plates in Shanghai and Shenzen.
Daimler has been limited from entering Asia's largest market on its own because of a law which requires foreign automakers to structure their China investments as joint venture companies with state-owned enterprises.
In addition to the ownership cap, the current policy calls for foreign automakers to set up a jointly-run technical center in China and to transfer certain technology to their local partners.
($1 = 0.7228 Euros)
(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)