Chinese carmaker BYD Co kicked off retail sales of its electric-hybrid vehicle, but is banking on the possibility a proposed government subsidy will spark sales of the vehicle in China.
The Warren Buffett-backed company launched the new model, the F3DM, at its headquarters in Shenzhen.
With a window-sticker price of 169,800 yuan ($24,855), sales may start off slow as car buyers may wait until plans for a government subsidy are finalized in July.
The updated, low-emission version has a solar panel on the roof of the car, which allows it to run on gasoline, electricity and solar energy.
The F3DM has a range of about 60 miles on electric-only power.
BYD introduced its plug-in hybrid to corporate and government-agency customers in December 2008 and supplied around 100 of the vehicles in 2009.
"We hope that the government starts the subsidy policy as soon as possible then we can offer electric cars with attractive prices to Chinese car buyers," said Xu An, BYD's spokesman.
Analysts said that the car's success would depend on government subsidies due to its formidable price. BYD's gas-powered F3 model, which utilizes the same body style as the F3DM, is currently priced at between 59,800 and 89,800 yuan.
If the government does choose to subsidize the cars, retail buyers could enjoy a break of up to 50,000 to 60,000 yuan for each car, Miao Wei, vice-minister of Industry and Information Technology, said earlier this month.
A decision on the subsidy is expected to be formally announced in July.