SHANGHAI - Tianjin Qingyuan Electric Vehicle Co, the first Chinese automaker to break into the United States, hopes to significantly boost sales of its self-developed electric models in the world's second-largest market this year, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

State-backed Qingyuan is among a growing army of Chinese automakers, including BYD Co, partly-owned by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, eager to tap the fledgling green car sector in mature markets.

Qingyuan hopes to sell 3,000 self-made electric vehicles mostly in the United States in 2010, 50 percent more than what it shipped there in the past five years, the source told Reuters.

It is also seeking opportunities to sell electric vehicles in Europe where regulators have been tightening up emission rules to tackle environmental issues, the source said.

Qingyuan is rather positive on the outlook of its export business as market potential for green cars in the U.S. and Europe is huge, said the source.

Qingyuan declined to comment.

Other Chinese automakers are also stepping up investment in the green car sector which is poised to take off.

BYD Co -- 10 percent controlled by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, has sold several hundred of its plug-in hybrid, F3DM, unveiled in December 2008. It also plans to export its first electric car, the e6, to the United States this year.

Chery Automobile Co, Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC) and SAIC Motor Corp, among others have unveiled their electric or hybrid models.


Beijing said in December it would expand its pilot scheme to subsidize the purchase of clean-energy vehicles for public transport fleets in 13 to 20 cities.

It would also subsidize the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles in five cities selected for a pilot program to private car buyers for the first time.

The move presents new growth opportunities for Qingyuan, which has been seeking to cooperate with domestic and foreign car ventures in China in the green vehicle segment.

A source told Reuters in September that Qingyuan was in talks with Daimler AG to develop an electric version of a van made at the German automaker's joint venture in southeast China.

Chery Auto, Beijing Hyundai, Hyundai Motor's car venture with BAIC, are also among its potential clients, the source said.

Qingyuan, based in the municipality of Tianjin near Beijing, is capable of producing 5,000 to 6,000 electric vehicles per annum.

Its near-term goal is to raise its production level for key components of electric cars, including motor and driving systems.

To fund expansion, Qingyuan is in talks with several potential foreign and domestic investors, said the source, without elaborating.

It may consider listing on China's Nasdaq-style second board, CHinNext eventually. The four-month old board is already home to 36 start-up firms, including movie maker H.Brothers and Aier Eye Hospital Group.

(Reporting by Fang Yan and Jacqueline Wong)