BEIJING -- General Motors is increasing its efforts to build hybrid vehicles in China, and GM's Allison Transmission division and its suppliers will benefit.
GM and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. agreed last week to explore ways to expand a hybrid bus development program. The two also will develop passenger cars using alternative engines.
SAIC is GM's partner in seven joint ventures in China, including the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, which develops vehicles for China. The engineering and design center will build demonstration hybrid vehicles.
"We need to bring down the costs and build the necessary infrastructure," GM CEO Rick Wagoner said in a press release.
"The best way to do that is by business and government working together."
The decision makes business as well as political sense.
The Chinese government is keen to develop more fuel-efficient engines to curb its growing appetite for imported oil and reduce pollution. An automotive policy released last year suggests preferential treatment for developers of fuel-efficient technologies.
GM and SAIC in October 2004 said they would develop jointly a demonstration hybrid bus in Shanghai using powertrain technology from Allison. That vehicle will be finished by year end.
GM and SAIC hope to use that technology in a larger fleet of buses by the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
GM and SAIC also will work to develop cars using hybrid technology and hydrogen fuel cell technology. No details were given on the car project. Fuel cells use hydrogen fuel to produce electricity.
Wagoner was in Shanghai for the annual meeting of the Shanghai mayor's international advisory council.
GM is not alone in its efforts to bring alternative engine technology to China. Toyota Motor Corp. will begin assembling its Prius hybrid in China by year end. Volkswagen AG said in September that it would work with Shanghai Volkswagen, a joint venture with SAIC, to develop a hybrid vehicle. VW also is aiming for a 2008 launch.
DaimlerChrysler AG is providing three fuel cell buses to the city of Beijing for use until October 2007.
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