Hover H7 by Great WallEnlarge Photo
South Korean battery maker LG Chem continues to be on a roll, signing up automakers left and right that plan to use its lithium-ion cells in new electric cars.
The latest to join the roster that includes Audi, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, Renault, Smart, Volkswagen, and Volvo is the Chinese carmaker known as Great Wall Motors.
Mock-up of LG Chem battery for Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
Production of those models is expected to start in 2017.
Due to a dearth of public charging stations and the large number of affluent Chinese drivers who live in apartment towers, plug-in hybrids are expected to be the most popular type of electric vehicles in China.
They qualify as so-called New Energy Vehicles, which get a variety of city, state, and national incentives from various levels of government, although there is no guarantee that they will be plugged in.
Nontheless, virtually every Chinese maker--whether domestic or foreign--is expected to offer one or more plug-in hybrid vehicles over the next several years.
Many of them will be compact crossover utility vehicles, an increasingly popular vehicle format in China, just as it is in North America.
Great Wall is China's largest single maker of SUVs of various sizes, and in 2012, it was the country's seventh-largest domestic automaker.
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Now more than 30 years old, Great Wall built only light trucks until 2010, when it introduced its first sedan.
But it is far better known in China for its various crossover utilities and SUVs, some of which will be offered with plug-in hybrid powertrains.
2006 Great Wall Cool Bear, Beijing Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
The company also offers its vehicles in Europe, where they can be sold duty-free due to a plant in Bulgaria that assembles vehicles shipped from China in kit form.
To auto-industry followers, however, Great Wall is also known for its picturesque model names, which in English include Cool Bear, Hover, Peri, and Wingle.