* Subsidiary of design contractor CH-Auto wins approval
* Third company to receive such approval
* Will invest $300 mln in electric car project
(Adds details, context)
BEIJING, Oct 18 China's main state planning body
has granted a subsidiary of automotive design contractor CH-Auto
permission to build 50,000 electric vehicles per year, the third
startup automaker to gain approval under a new licensing system.
The government has employed a raft of policies to promote a
switch from petrol-powered to electric cars, including spending
billions of dollars in subsidies. It sees the segment as an
opportunity to leapfrog global automakers that had a nearly
century-long head start in making internal combustion engines.
In response, automakers have moved to broaden their range of
green car offerings. On Tuesday, South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co
said it would build nine green models in China by
2020, making up 10 percent of its China sales by that year.
As part of the government's efforts, the green car segment
has been opened up to non-automakers, including technology
companies. It began calling on such firms to apply for official
approval to make electric cars this year.
Qiantu Auto (Suzhou) became the third company to gain
approval under that system, receiving permission for a 2 billion
yuan ($300 million) factory project, showed a statement on the
National Development and Reform Commission website on Tuesday.
Parent company CH-Auto primarily acts as an engineering and
design contractor for automakers but has decided to make cars of
CH-Auto and Qiantu did not respond to requests for comment.
Beijing Electric Vehicle Co, affiliated with state-owned
Beijing Automotive Group Co Ltd, was first to gain
approval for an electric vehicle project in March. Hangzhou
Changjiang Passenger Vehicle Co Ltd received approval in May.
($1 = 6.6685 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and