Following the lead of its government, which recently pledged a whopping $15 billion towards helping accelerate the electrification of the automobile, Chinese automaker Dongfeng has announced that it plans to do its part by adding a further $440 million to that tally over the next five years. Most of the money is to be divided into programs to help commercialize fuel-efficient powertrains, set up demonstration programs and support infrastructure for the roll-out of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Dongfeng is the third largest automaker in China and currently manufactures a range of automobiles including passenger vehicles and commercial trucks and buses. The company also has close ties with a number of international automakers, including Honda, Nissan and France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen.

What Dongfeng doesn’t have, however, is a significant range of hybrid and electric vehicles--a segment the company hopes will eventually account for roughly 20 percent of its sales. The target Dongfeng has set for itself is 800,000 hybrid and electric vehicle sales through 2020.

To do so, Dongfeng has patented a total of 67 new designs for the green vehicles and is currently conducting trials of more than 400 vehicles in its hometown of Wuhan, China, as well as Shanghai. A new spate of government incentives for green vehicles due for launch over the coming years should also help spur sales.

[Inside Line]