Electric car and battery maker BYD hopes to be a top supplier for incentive programmes to boost the use of electric cars in Chinese cities, a senior executive has said.

“The Chinese government supports 10 cities to each have 1,000 electric vehicles for public transportation,” Henry Li, general manager of BYD Auto’s export trade division, told Reuters.

“With this we already have a quite high demand for electric vehicles”, he said, adding BYD hoped to supply a big number of e-cars for this programme in future. “But there is a lot of competition, so it is hard to say, how many (contracts) we can actually get.”

Li said demand for electric cars would come first from governments, taxi and corporate fleets in all markets. “The trend is to go electric, but how much and how long the government will support (the electric car segment) is very difficult to say,” he told the news agency.

BYD will launch its e6 electric vehicle by the end of 2009 in China, expecting sales of a “few hundred” cars in its first year. A United States debut will follow in 2010, Li said, adding: “Our forecast for (market launch in) Europe is before the end of 2011.”

BYD has ambitious plans for hybrid and rechargeable electric vehicles, aiming to sell up to 9m units by 2025 amidst competition from General Motors and hybrid leader Toyota.

BYD and Volkswagen signed a memorandum of understanding in May to explore the options for partnership in the area of hybrids and electric vehicles.

“Talks with further European and US companies are ongoing,” Li told Reuters, adding “nothing has finalised yet.”

There were no plans at present to give US investor Warren Buffett a higher stake in the company, Li reiterated, echoing remarks the billionaire made in a recent interview with the news agency.

BYD wants ‘new energy’ subsidies