Last week little-known carmaker Zotye Auto became the first Chinese company to sell a purely electric car to an individual buyer.
Li Ziqiang, a Hangzhou resident, bought the 5008EV from the Zhejiang-based private manufacturer last Monday after leasing a 2008EV model based on the company's small SUV for six months.
In January this year, Zotye put 100 of its 2008EV model up for lease in Hangzhou to test them in daily use under actual road conditions.
Li paid 2,500 yuan a month to lease the car that would sell for more than 200,000 yuan - far more expensive than its 60,000-yuan petrol-powered cousin made by Zotye.
He said the car only cost him about 100 yuan a month for electricity. He made the decision to buy one after he learned about a government subsidy for new-energy vehicles, said a report of Qianjiang Evening News, a local newspaper in Hangzhou.
Eventually Li paid 108,000 yuan for the car, - not even half of its sticker price - thanks to the central government's subsidy of 60,000 yuan and an allowance offered by the Hangzhou city government.
A source with Zotye Auto told China Daily that the company recently began accepting orders for its electric models but without a uniform price, since various cities have different subsidies for green vehicles.
The source said 108,000 yuan was the price for just Li's deal.
Zhong Shi, an independent automotive analyst, pointed out that the transaction with an individual customer "should not be overestimated".
"The commercialization (of electric vehicles) not only depends on the unilateral will of manufacturers - support facilities is also a big issue, as is consumer perception of new products - plus the battery technology is not mature," said Zhong.
Shenzhen-based BYD Co, well-known as the electric car pioneer in China, has yet to offer its purely electric model e6 for sale to individual buyers. The company currently has 40 of its e6 models running on the streets of Shenzhen as taxis.
The company does plan to sell the e6 to individual customers later this year with the pre-sale price set at 300,000 yuan, said Xu An, a manager at one of BYD's public relations departments.
With a central government subsidy of 60,000 yuan and a matching amount by the Shenzhen city government, the all-electric model would cost about 180,000 yuan.
BYD started to sell its plug-in hybrid model F3DM in March at a sticker price of 169,800 yuan. After subsidies of 50,000 yuan from the central government and 30,000 yuan from the local government, the hybrid will cost customers nearly 90,000 yuan.
Dozens of the F3DM have been sold, said the company, without disclosing a precise figure.