buickelectric.jpgIts not just German carmakers who have difficulty taking electric cars seriously — see yesterday's EngagingChina story. At this year's Shanghai Auto Show, Chinese electric carmaker BYD attracted a lot of attention with its novel battery technology.

But a General Motors exec tells the Daily Telegraph that in terms of battery life, range and recharging capability, BYD's technology leaves a lot to be desired.

That's rich, coming from a company that is facing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, wants the US government to loan it $10bn to fund its own electric car programme, and whose first production electric car, the much-vaunted Chevy Volt, is still 18 months away from launch.

Nevertheless, even the Neanderthals at General Motors know which way the wind is blowing so at the Shanghai show GM unveiled a hybrid multipurpose vehicle aimed primarily at the Chinese market.

Styled around the Buick marque, the MPV was developed at the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Centre (PATAC), which is a JV between Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation and the US giant. The vehicle uses GM's next-generation hybrid technology, which achieves a 20% efficiency improvement over current hybrids.

Sounds good, until you hear what it is called: the Business Concept Vehicle. So, it is in fact a concept car, which in industry parlance means: we don't take this car seriously and it will never go into volume production. Not unless the Chinese or US government gives us a lot of money, presumably. Keep taking the bailouts, GM.

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