China’s Geely Acquires U.K. Electric-Car Startup

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SHANGHAI—Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. said it acquired British electric-vehicle startup Emerald Automotive.

Victor Yang, a spokesman for the Chinese auto maker, said Saturday that the acquisition would help the company generate “next generation” taxis, including electric vehicles. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, was signed Friday in London.

Geely a year ago acquired the principal assets of Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC—owner of the London Taxi Co., which manufactures the city’s black cab—for $18.5 million. Geely bought Sweden’s Volvo Car Corp. in 2010.

Emerald said Geely had committed to investing a minimum of $200 million over the next five years to help develop Emerald’s electric vehicles. Emerald has developed prototypes of two models of electric delivery vans, which the company has plans to build at a plant in Hazelwood, Mo.

With the acquisition of Emerald, Geely agreed to “maintain its loan” commitments, including those pertaining to a proposed plant, Mr. Yang said.

Emerald spokesman Gary Marble put that amount at around $5 million for loans previously secured from Missouri and Hazelwood.

Emerald Chief Executive Andy Tempest said in a prepared statement that the deal would secure Emerald’s long-term future. “This is a fantastic opportunity, which will allow us to expand our current vehicle-development work in line with Geely Group’s global vision,” he said.

Mr. Yang played down the idea that Geely would build vehicles in the U.S. immediately but suggested it might be a possibility in the “very long term.” He said Geely had plans to develop new-energy vehicles for London Taxi first and would look in the future to targeting taxi fleets in other markets, including China.

“As people want a better standard of living, they demand better service,” he said. In China, “we need better cars and better taxi services,” Mr. Yang said.

China’s government wants 500,000 hybrid and electric vehicles on its roads by next year and five million by 2020. Adoption has been slow, however. Only 17,600 such vehicles were purchased in China last year, including hybrid and pure-electric cars and buses. It is likely that the current total number of vehicles in use is no more than 50,000.

Local authorities in China are planning to speed up the construction of charging stations for electric cars in urban regions, Xinhua reported Saturday. Beijing said it would add 1,000 electric chargers by year-end.

As agencies in China come under increased pressure to reduce air pollution and ease traffic congestion, more are looking to expand the use of new-energy vehicles in public transportation and taxi fleets.

Companies such as car maker BYD Co. 002594.SZ +6.49% , which is considered a pioneer in the country’s electric-car industry, have been looking to bus and taxi fleets as important markets for building demand for electric vehicles in China and overseas. BYD’s electric cars form part of the taxi fleet in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. The company also has a small plant in Lancaster, Calif., that produces electric buses.

  吉利 收购英国电动车公司

  2月28日,吉利集团宣布,正式收购一家英国Emerald Automotive电动车公司,签约仪式在英国伦敦举行。吉利发言人杨学良表示,收购的目的在于帮助公司提升打造“下一代”出租车的能力,包括电动出租车。吉利集团并未公布交易金额,接近吉利集团高层人士表示,收购价格为“几千万美元”。不过,Emerald Automotive公司发布声明称,未来5年内吉利承诺将至少投资2亿美元,开发Emerald Automotive系列电动车辆。

  杨学良介绍,吉利计划首先为伦敦出租车开发新能源车,并着眼于未来将出租车批量投放到其他市场,包括中国本土。Emerald Automotive公司成立并不长,主要是一个研发轻量化、增程式电动车研究的公司。吉利认为,该公司所具备的车身轻量化技术也能够很好地降低伦敦出租车的制造成本。

  而在去年2月份,吉利集团以1104万英镑并购英国锰铜公司核心资产和业务,全资控股伦敦出租车公司,该公司生产闻名的黑色出租车。