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Nissan, Renault to provide China with electric cars

  Japan’s Nissan Motor Co and France’s Renault said on Friday they will supply electric cars to China, the world’s largest auto market.

The Franco-Japanese alliance will provide the Chinese government with a comprehensive plan for marketing and for a battery-charging network, with the aim of selling electric vehicles to China in early 2011.

Earlier this year, Beijing kicked off a pilot program to promote clean energy vehicles in the public transport sector in 13 cities, underlining government efforts to address issues such as environmental pollution and energy security.

Wuhan, the capital city of central Hubei province, has been selected as the first city under a memorandum of understanding signed by Nissan and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China.

Nissan did not disclose any financial details of the agreement or the number of electric vehicles it will supply to Wuhan. Electric vehicles are meant to be cheaper to run than regular cars and reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions.

Two Chinese automakers have also sought to tap potential demand for clean energy cars. BYD Auto, a subsidiary of rechargeable battery maker BYD Co., launched its plug-in hybrid car F3DM in China late last year. And Chery Automobile rolled out its first self-developed electric car, the S18, in February.

Nissan said in February it aimed to expand its Chinese vehicle sales by 4.6% in 2009 in a market that has become one of the few remaining hopes for the embattled industry.

The firm is expecting to sell 570,000 cars and light commercial vehicles this year in China, which accounted for about 15% of its global sales last year.

Vehicle sales in China, which surpassed the United States in January to become the world’s largest car market, climbed to a record in March, extending gains from the previous month, helped by government incentives to bolster demand in both urban and rural areas, official data show. (Reuters)