gm_sequel_concept.jpgGeneral Motors and China's SAIC, which already collaborate on conventional cars, are to start making hybrid cars in 2008.

Shanghai GM, the two firms' JV and China's leading carmaker, plans
to manufacture hybrid gas- and electric-powered vehicles by that date,
according to Earthtimes.

The vehicles will largely depend on hydrogen fuel-cell technology,
which the company showcased Monday in its Sequel concept vehicle
(above), which has the look of a minivan and has a range of 300 miles.

The Sequel has been shown before but this is the first time GM has done so in China.

Its easy to write off the growing number of these “green car”
announcements from mainstream carmakers as little more than publicity
stunts or sops to consumers' rising concerns about climate change.
Critics will argue that the industry is doing too little too late to
clean up its image — and its vehicles.

Nevertheless, we at EngagingChina like the way that
the environment is creeping up the agenda for China-based carmakers —
and, hopefully, also for Chinese car buyers.

The conventional view has been that only consumers in the developed
markets of the west were interested in “green” vehicles — and, even
then, only a minority would pay the premium price required to salve
their consciences.

GM says the technologies embodied in Sequel, which include fuel
cells , include drive-by-wire controls and wheel hub motors, have
developed so fast that it has been able to significantly improve both
the range and performance of the vehicle compared to current fuel-cell

Now, GM faces the biggest challenge: driving down the price of the
green vehicles such that as more Chinese take to the roads, they do not
also add to the country's already serious pollution problems.

More on the Sequel here.

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