China will encourage sales of more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

BEIJING — Chinese automakers have announced plans to increase sales of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, a niche segment in the world’s biggest auto market, and the government is expected to announce supportive new policies, possibly as early as this month.

SAIC Motor, China’s biggest automaker, which has partnerships with Volkswagen and General Motors, said on Sunday it plans to sell over 10,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2025.

Commercial vehicle maker Beiqi Foton Motor, a BAIC unit, said last week it aims to sell 4,000 hydrogen vehicles by 2023, and 15,000 such vehicles by 2025.

The announcements came after a finance ministry official said earlier in September that China will roll out a new package of policies to support hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

China now has a fleet of just over 7,000 hydrogen vehicles, compared with over 4 million pure battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Current policies to support electric vehicles offer subsidies on sales. But new supportive policies will require local city governments and companies to build up a more mature supply chain and business model for the industry. Three industry sources familiar with policy discussions said authorities could announce a new policy as early as this month.

Pilot cities will likely include Beijing, Shanghai, as well as cities in northern Shanxi and eastern Jiangsu provinces, according to sources, who declined to be named as the issue is not public.

The Finance Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some global automakers from Toyota to Hyundai have already announced plans for hydrogen vehicles in China.

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