Global leader China continued its blistering pace of plug-in electrified vehicle sales during the first half of 2016, with pure electric vehicles taking the lion’s share of the market.

Figures released by China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that PEV production and sales reached 177,000 and 170,000 units, respectively, in the first half of 2016, up 161 percent and 162 percent. China took a substantial lead over the U.S. and European PEV markets.

Battery electric vehicles are showing the most potential in the Chinese market. During the first half of the year, 134,000 units of the 177,000 production total were pure electric vehicles, according to CAAM.

CAAM figures include light-duty plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles sold in China. There continues to be concern over inflation of the sales figure reporting by automakers, with fraud claims still under government investigation.

Generous “new energy” government subsidies continue to assist PEV sales in China. Removing sales taxes on the purchase is appealing to car shoppers.

“Currently, you don’t have to pay taxes when you buy a new energy car in China,” said Dai Dali, General Manager of China FAW New Energy Vehicle Branch.

One of Chinese automaker FAW’s plug-in hybrid cars can run 50 km (31 miles) per charge. It costs about 160,000 yuan (about $24,000 dollars), saving about 14,000 yuan ($2,090 dollars) in taxes, Dai said.

Chinese brands are competing for a larger share of the market. Chinese companies, including BYD and FAW, have or plan to introduce new PEV models.

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Various media outlets have reported that one of the PEV product launch trends expected this year will come from electric SUVs. Eight domestic brands will release 10 types of electric SUVs in 2016, with most based on their gasoline-engine models.

Guo Ai, regional representative of JAC Motors, said the company’s new energy cars are “doing quite well” in cities like Beijing, where government subsidies help.

Purchase price is just one factor in the market. In China, drivers complain about poor driving ranges and shortened battery life in winter.

“We are improving our technology to increase ranges, and improve cold weather performance,” Guo said.

Automakers and consumers in China would like to see more charging stations. That’s still a challenge for increasing PEV sales’ share of total new vehicles sold in the country.

There were about 81,000 public charging stations in China at the end of June, up 65 percent compared to the end of last year. The number of private charging stations rose 12 percent from the end of 2015 to more than 50,000, according to the National Energy Administration. But investment in charging is considered to be small and lower than market expectations.

Shanghai Daily