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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Daimler to test Smart electric cars in Hong Kong

Daimler AG will provide a trial version of its Smart electric car to partners in Hong Kong as the city battles record pollution.

Daimler's partners in the trial, which include the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Swire Coca-Cola HK, will use the two-seater car for six to 12 months, the carmaker said in a statement today.

Daimler's Mercedes Benz unit will offer a service center with technicians and mechanics.

The pilot program, which will run for four years, joins a push by automakers such as Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. to introduce electric vehicles in Hong Kong, where pollution reached "very high" levels on a record one in four days in 2010, according to government data.

The city government plans to replace some fuel-powered vehicles with electric ones and is trying hybrid buses, lawmakers said in February.

"A combination of electric vehicles and cleaner energy is a very good recipe for Hong Kong to become a greener city," Edward Yau, Hong Kong's environment secretary, said.

The city has 170 electric vehicles and will increase the number of charging stations to 1,000 in a year from 300, he said.

Daimler's Smart electric car, which can travel 135 kilometers (84 miles) on a full charge, won't be produced globally until 2012.

In Asia, the company has launched similar pilot programs in Indonesia, Japan and Singapore.

The other four partners who will get the car in Hong Kong are CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd., Jardine Airport Services Ltd., Yan Chai Hospital and Hongkong Electric Co.

Vehicles are the second-biggest source of pollution in Hong Kong after power stations, and their numbers rose 9.6 percent between 2004 and 2009, according to the government.

Nissan agreed to supply advance units of its Leaf electric car to Hong Kong, the government said in January.

Mitsubishi Motors already sells its battery-powered i-MiEV in the city. Daimler's Mercedes marque was the second-largest luxury car brand based on the latest full-year numbers.

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