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Author: WuhuW

Property backlog allows cheap deals for the poor in Wuhu

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Chinese property market saw faster de-stocking in May. Over 7 million square metres of residential properties in stock was cleared last month. But smaller cities seem to have more trouble getting rid of what they’ve built.

This offers a chance to the country’s underprivileged to own properties in smaller cities. Wu Hu in central China’s Anhui Province is one such city that came up with incentive policies to help the poor. 

China still has 455 million square meters of unsold housing space as of April.  Despite calls to reduce properties stock, the backlog still increased by over 12 million square meters in the first four months of this year, compared with the end of 2015.

While the highly-sought-after big cities have attracted most of the cash-ready customers, properties in third and fourth tier cities are mainly left for farmers and migrant workers. Demand for a home of their own is strong, but so is their financing pressure.

“It is impossible for a migrant worker to apply for a loan in a commercial bank,” said Dong Hongwu, migrant worker from Wuhu, Anhui.

Wuhu in Anhui Province was the first in China to set up a property financing company for migrant workers. Farmers who come to work in cities can apply for housing loans with a small downpayment.

“It only took about three days for the loan to come through. Normal mortgage rate is over 5 percent, I got it for 3 percent from the property financing firm. The government subsidized for 10,000 yuan. This has saved us a total 30,000 yuan which would be enough to renovate our new 100-square-metre-apartment,” Dong also said.

Local Wuhu government statistics show that migrant workers have bought 1,400 units of apartments in the first five months of this year, accounting for 80 percent of the total sales. Government incentives have also helped high skilled talents with moderate incomes.

“We subsidize maximum 500,000 yuan for high skill talents who wish to buy a property here. We have analysed the demographic breakdown of our city, and about 60 percent of the population hold at least some kind of diploma,” said Luo Hongqi, deputy director of Housing & Urban Construction, Wuhu Gov’t.

Experts say these subsidizing policies are so far proving effective in terms of reducing property backlog, but long-term effect on local economy is still subject to debate.

Hefei-Wuhu-Bengbu Aims to Evolve into an Industrial Innovation Hub

The Chinese government said on Monday that it gave the nod to the establishment of two national innovation demonstration zones in Anhui and Fujian provinces, respectively.

One of the zones, consisting of high tech zones in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, as well as in Wuhu and Bengbu cities, is intended as an influential hub of industrial innovation, according to the written approval.

The Hefei-Wuhu-Bengbu innovation demonstration zone will take the lead in reforming sci-tech systems and implementing innovation-related policies, the government said in the statement.

In addition, the zone will strive to grow into a template for commercialization of research findings, a driving force behind industrial innovation and upgrading, and an ecological quarter for mass entrepreneurship and innovation.

The three cities will enhance their core competitiveness largely concerning independent innovation and innovation-driven development, Zhou Yunfeng, a local economist, said in an interview with the Paper.cn.

Hefei, Wuhu and Bengbu will be given priority in acquiring innovation resources, Zhou added.

The annual output of Anhui’s strategic emerging industries has risen by roughly 30 percent in recent years, official statistics showed. Standing out among them were electronic information, high-end equipment manufacturing, modern medicine and new energy.

Regionally, Hefei is competitive in information technology, while Wuhu and Bengbu are renowned for robot-making and green energy, respectively.

The zone should work together with its counterparts across the country, including Shanghai’s Zhangjiang, Hubei province’s Donghu and Sichuan province’s Chengdu high tech zones, in a bid to ‘form a complete regional chain for innovation,’ an official with the Anhui Provincial Development and Reform Commission said on condition of anonymity.

The central government has approved the establishment of 16 national innovation demonstration zones, according to the Paper.cn.

Baidu Plans to Test Driverless Vehicles in the City of Wuhu

Chinese Internet company Baidu Inc. is going head to head against U.S. search engine giant Google in the autonomous vehicle industry. The Chinese company recently unveiled plans to launch a trial area for autonomous vehicles in the city of Wuhu located in the southeastern province of Anhui, China.

Baidu, which has great ambition in driverless vehicles, signed a cooperation agreement on Monday with Wuhu municipal government to jointly build a trial operation zone for fully autonomous driving vehicles.

The trial zone, the first of its kind in China, will allow Baidu to become the only company to test autonomous driving in public transportation in Wuhu.

If the technology is proven to be workable, the local authorities in Wuhu are even considering repla­cing all of the city’s buses and part of its taxi fleet with driverless vehicles in another five years.

“Autonomous vehicles are the future of the auto industry. Instead of being defined by traditional technologies and performance, automobiles in the future will be defined by software,” said Wang Jin, head of Baidu’s autonomous driving business unit.

The establishment of the trial zone is seen as an important step for Baidu to meet its goal of “commercialising driverless technology in three years and achieving mass production in five years”.

The Beijing-based company, which runs China’s largest search engine, has placed great emphasis on artificial intelligence and auto­nomous driving, as it is keen to diversify its business.

Baidu’s autonomous car, which successfully completed road tests last December on combined road conditions – city roads, ring roads and highways – can run at a maximum speed of 100kph.

Qian Wenying, director of automobile research at Beijing-based consultancy Analysys International, said that the trial zone could provide Baidu a safer place to test its autonomous driving technology in all kind of weather and road conditions.

It will also help the cars “speed up their learning process”, therefore pushing the development of the technology
Earlier this week, Baidu and the municipal government of Wuhu have both signed a five-year cooperation agreement that will allow the company’s autonomous vehicles – including cars, vans and buses – to move about freely around the entire city.
During the first three years of the trial, the driverless vehicles will be exposed to limited areas only, and will not carry any passengers on board. In due course, however, the areas will be extended to include public highways, and “the service will be commercialized to allow some of the three million inhabitants of Wuhu to use it.”, according to a report by BBC.
According to Wang Jing, Vice President of Baidu and head of the company’s autonomous driving business division, the driverless vehicles will then be exposed to the entire city after the five-year period, in which they will blend in with human drivers and “human-driven” vehicles. The Star reported that the local officials of Wuhu “are even considering repla­cing all of the city’s buses and part of its taxi fleet with driverless vehicles”, if the technology is proven to be successful.
Self-driving technologies seems to be the future of the automotive industry. Major automobile manufacturers such as Toyota, BMW and Volvo have all jumped into the autonomous vehicle bandwagon. During BMW’s 100th year celebration, the company announced plans to launch an autonomous electric car called “iNext” by the year 2021.
During the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, which kicked off in April 25, Chinese Internet company LeEco unveiled its first ever four-door electric sedan called LeSEE EV, which uses a semi-autonomous technology. The electric sedan was designed for the Chinese market and could take on the likes of Tesla.

BBC: Chinese city Wuhu embraces driverless vehicles

Chinese hi-tech firm Baidu has unveiled a plan to let driverless vehicles range freely around an entire city.

The five-year plan will see the autonomous cars, vans and buses slowly introduced to the eastern city of Wuhu.

Initially no passengers will be carried by the vehicles as the technology to control them is refined via journeys along designated test zones.
Eventually the test areas will be expanded and passengers will be able to use the vehicles.
“They want to be the first city in the world to embrace autonomous driving,” said Wang Jing, Baidu’s head of driverless cars, in an interview with the BBC’s Click programme.
“This is the first city that is brave enough, daring enough and innovative enough to test autonomous driving,” he said.

Efficiency drive
Mr Jing said the first phase of the trial would last about three years and would involve restricted areas in the city where buses, mid-size vans and cars would be tested.
After three years, the areas of the city in which the autonomous cars can drive will be expanded and the service will be commercialised to allow some of the three million inhabitants of Wuhu to use it.

After five years, he said, the whole city will be open to the driverless vehicles which will mix with human-driven cars, trucks and buses.
Mr Jing said the city was keen to use robot vehicles because they were a much more efficient way to transport people and goods.
The current model in which many households own a car was a “great waste” of resources, he said, because most of the time private cars stood idle. By contrast, he said, robot cars would be much more heavily used.

A study released this week suggested that greater use of driverless cars could promote congestion. The study by accounting group KPMG suggested the robot cars could be used widely by groups, such as the young and old, who do not usually drive thereby increasing the numbers of vehicles on the road.

Mr Jing said he hoped the Wuhu trial would lead to projects elsewhere.
“We are trying to give the experience and data to the central government so they can see the benefit and that will make it easier for us to push to other cities in China,” he said. “We hope it will be a starting point that lets us take it to other countries.”

Baidu is known to be working closely with German car maker BMW on the development of control systems for autonomous vehicles. The cars emerging from that partnership as well as others made by Chinese car maker Chery will be used in the Wuhu trial.

Many tech firms, including Google, and car manufacturers are also working on control systems for robot cars.

Wuhu sticks to new-energy drive

As one of the early birds researching and developing NEV products, Chery launched its first electric minicar eQ at the end of 2014. The company sold 15,000 electric cars last year, and plans to sell 35,000 this year. In 2020, it aims to reach 200,000 units in annual sales.

Chery also set foot into e-car rental services. It teamed with rental firm Eakay and provided 1,164 eQ cars in Wuhu, Anhui province, priced at 15 yuan ($2.29) per hour and 65 yuan per day.

Although believing in the potential of NEV market, Ni said his company still faced challenges such as battery technology and a subsidy policy, which favors battery makers.

“Battery technology is the biggest problem,” Ni said.

He said as a result Chery’s long-term strategy on NEV is to make pure electric cars for short ranges. As for long range cars, electric plus range extenders (powered by petrol or fuel cell) will be used.

Ni said that his concerns on batteries were underscored in speeches by industry experts in a number of panel discussions last week during the Sino-American technology and engineering conference, held from May 16-18.

An auto rental service that uses only electric cars is now ready for nationwide expansion after what the company called a two-year successful trial in Wuhu, East China”s Anhui province.

The business model was launched in 2014 by the Wuhu-based Eakay Electric Automobile Rental Co Ltd.

Eakay customers can rent cars via an app and the drivers and rental agency operators do not need to meet in person, avoiding lengthy paperwork and other inconveniences of the traditional auto rental business.

The customers can drop off the vehicles at any of the 55 spots in Wuhu”s 110-square-kilometer downtown area.

Eakay now has a fleet of more than 1,100 electric cars,all made by Chery Automobile Co, which is also based in the city.

Eakay has begun an aggressive expansion plan that will see the number of cars increasing to 3,100 by the end of the year and the company opening branches in 50 cities in two years, said President Yan Daoyuan.

Initially, the new branches will be in third- and fourth-tier cities.

“During the two years of trial in the city, our cars have been used more than 20,000 times,” said Yan.

“Though the government wants very much to promote electric cars, many people still don”t want to buy them because of multiple concerns. The rental will be a good opportunity for them to try such a new-energy car.”

To rent a car, customers need to pay only 15 yuan ($2.32) an hour and 65 yuan for a day.

China”s car rental sector has been on the fast track in recent years, while Eakay executives said they believe that the battle for the domestic car-sharing market has only just begun.

“Competition comes from not only the domestic players, but also the global competitors,” said Tan Yi, cofounder and chief operating officer of Eakay.

German carmaker Daimler AG last Friday launched its car2go rental service in Southwest China”s Chongqing municipality, allowing users to park their Mercedes-Benz Smart cars, some 400 in total, anywhere in an area of 60 sq km in the city after use.

“The Chinese car-sharing market is still developing, but it bears high potential. It is expected to grow around 80 percent per year until 2018,” said a 2014 report by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants GmbH, a global consulting firm.

“In the near future, only station-based business models with closed community consumer groups will suit the Chinese market conditions,” said Andreas Maennel, principal at Roland Berger Greater China.

“This approach will reduce the number of required vehicles and amount of initial investment. Only when general awareness and network density increase might a free-floating model become feasible,” the report added.

Yan said Eakay is now “very close to a free-floating model since an easy-to-reach network is already in place and the service spots will be increased to about 200 by the end of this year.”

The company has also built more than 1,000 charging stations, each allowing two cars to charge at the same time. Another 2,500 will be built this year.

The charging stations are also open to private electric-car owners.

“Lack of charging facilities has always been one of the most important factors hindering the promotion of electric cars in China,” said Tan.

“Such a market-oriented practice will be more effective in tackling the problem than government regulations stipulating certain number of recharging posts in the neighborhood,” Tan added.

 

Eakay Electric Auto seeks expansion for its rental business

By Zhu Lixin In Wuhu, Anhui(China Daily)

An auto rental service that uses only electric cars is now ready for nationwide expansion after what the company called a two-year successful trial in Wuhu, East China’s Anhui province.

The business model was launched in 2014 by the Wuhu-based Eakay Electric Automobile Rental Co Ltd.

Eakay customers can rent cars via an app and the drivers and rental agency operators do not need to meet in person, avoiding lengthy paperwork and other inconveniences of the traditional auto rental business.

The customers can drop off the vehicles at any of the 55 spots in Wuhu’s 110-square-kilometer downtown area.

Eakay now has a fleet of more than 1,100 electric cars, all made by Chery Automobile Co, which is also based in the city.

Eakay has begun an aggressive expansion plan that will see the number of cars increasing to 3,100 by the end of the year and the company opening branches in 50 cities in two years, said President Yan Daoyuan.

Initially, the new branches will be in third- and fourth-tier cities.

“During the two years of trial in the city, our cars have been used more than 20,000 times,” said Yan.

“Though the government wants very much to promote electric cars, many people still don’t want to buy them because of multiple concerns. The rental will be a good opportunity for them to try such a new-energy car.”

To rent a car, customers need to pay only 15 yuan ($2.32) an hour and 65 yuan for a day.

China’s car rental sector has been on the fast track in recent years, while Eakay executives said they believe that the battle for the domestic car-sharing market has only just begun.

“Competition comes from not only the domestic players, but also the global competitors,” said Tan Yi, cofounder and chief operating officer of Eakay.

German carmaker Daimler AG last Friday launched its car2go rental service in Southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, allowing users to park their Mercedes-Benz Smart cars, some 400 in total, anywhere in an area of 60 sq km in the city after use.

“The Chinese car-sharing market is still developing, but it bears high potential. It is expected to grow around 80 percent per year until 2018,” said a 2014 report by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants GmbH, a global consulting firm.

“In the near future, only station-based business models with closed community consumer groups will suit the Chinese market conditions,” said Andreas Maennel, principal at Roland Berger Greater China.

“This approach will reduce the number of required vehicles and amount of initial investment. Only when general awareness and network density increase might a free-floating model become feasible,” the report added.

Yan said Eakay is now “very close to a free-floating model since an easy-to-reach network is already in place and the service spots will be increased to about 200 by the end of this year.”

The company has also built more than 1,000 charging stations, each allowing two cars to charge at the same time. Another 2,500 will be built this year.

The charging stations are also open to private electric-car owners.

“Lack of charging facilities has always been one of the most important factors hindering the promotion of electric cars in China,” said Tan.

“Such a market-oriented practice will be more effective in tackling the problem than government regulations stipulating certain number of recharging posts in the neighborhood,” Tan added.

Wooden roller coaster debuts in Wuhu

A wooden roller coaster makes its debut in Wuhu city, East China’s Anhui province, July 1, 2015. [Photo/China News Service]

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A wooden roller coaster makes its debut in Wuhu city, East China’s Anhui province, July 1, 2015. The structure is 1060 meters long, 32 meters high at its highest point, and allows for speeds of up to 91 km/h. It claims to be the largest wooden roller coaster in East China. [Photo/China News Service]

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Visitors try out the newly opened wooden roller coaster in Wuhu city, East China’s Anhui province, July 1, 2015. [Photo/China News Service]