Geely plans to sell 5,000 methanol and liquefied natural gas cars by the end of the year as it bids for a hi-tech, 'clean and green' image.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong-listed company has set itself the target of selling around 2,000 methanol-powered cars and 3,000 LNG cars.

"Replacing petrol engine cars with methanol engine cars will become a trend because production costs are lower," said Yu Wei, general manager of Geely subsidiary Shanghai Maple Automobile.

"Shanxi, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia will be good starting points as these provinces have the necessary infrastructure.

"In the long run, methanol engine cars will dominate the market because it only takes 2,000 yuan (HK$2,287) to 3,000 yuan to make a tonne of methanol, but the cost of importing a tonne of crude oil for petrol is about 7,000 to 8,000 yuan."

But from a consumer perspective the disincentive will be that methanol and LNG cars will cost between 8,000 and 10,000 yuan more than the average price car sold by Geely, of between 50,000 yuan and 60,000 yuan per unit, the newspaper report said.

The company is also exploring methanol-petrol hybrid and electric cars.

"Low-cost production cannot be sustained in the current vehicle market. Eventually, we will need to develop breakthrough technology in order to avoid being led by others," Yu said.

Geely has set a sales and production target of two million units by 2015, two-thirds of which it hopes to export. Executives say this will be met in a three-stage process over the next three years.

In the first half-year, Geely sold 121,690 cars, representing growth of 12% over the same period last year.

Geely also plans to begin exporting a hatchback model priced at around 100,000 yuan to the US and Europe next year, the South China Morning Post reported.

The four-door FC-2 was designed to meet emission and safety standards in the US and European markets.