Beijing, China – China has classified “new energy” vehicles into three categories and has set a target of at least 5 per cent of alternative-energy automobiles by 2011, according to a report by the Green Car Congress.

The three categories include start-up technology still at the research level, such as fuel cell vehicles; developing technologies, including hybrid engines with lithium ion batteries; and mature technologies with standardized mass production, such as lead acid battery hybrid vehicles. The categories were determined by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

According to the classifications, vehicles powered by mature alternative energy technologies will now be treated as conventional vehicles, including hybrid passenger vehicles with nickel-metal hydride or lead-acid batteries, and electric vehicles with lead-acid batteries. Automakers are allowed to begin mass production of vehicles with developing energy technologies,  but their sales are still subject to certain conditions.

The new standards will be in effect until the end of 2010, when they will be revised further.

Earlier this year, China’s State Council set a sales target for alternative-energy automobiles of at least 5 per cent of total passenger vehicle sales by 2011, with each major domestic automaker offering at least one such model. The government’s total vehicle sales target is 10 million units in 2009, with annual growth averaging 10 per cent over the next 3 years.

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