Shares in mainland carmaker BYD surged 16.43 per cent yesterday to HK$13.32 after it announced it would begin marketing its first plug-in electric hybrid car in response to the government's drive to cut emissions. The private company based in Shenzhen is backed by United States investor Warren Buffett, who holds a 9.9 per cent stake through MidAmerican Energy Holdings. 'The first stop is Shenzhen,' said BYD spokesman Xu Feng. 'We will then promote the vehicle in 13 cities including Guangzhou, Beijing, Xian, Qingdao, Tianjin and Wuhan.' The company did not disclose figures on production runs and sales targets, but it has signed agreements with the Shenzhen government and Shenzhen branches of China Construction Bank Corp to provide the plug-in hybrids. 'The Shenzhen government will take 20 units and China Construction Bank will take 60 units,' Ms Xu said. The central government earlier said it planned to replace the country's public transportation and taxis by next year with hybrid vehicles. It has urged major carmakers to co-operate. The BYD hybrid, known as the 'F3DM', will sell for 149,800 yuan (HK$169,468). Toyota's Prius, the best-selling hybrid on the mainland, costs from 259,800 yuan and its Camry model costs about 197,800 yuan. 'If the government can provide supportive measures such as tax incentives, the price of the cars can be reduced to a level that the public can afford,' said BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu. Carmakers have suggested that tax breaks would be an effective way to boost sales for green vehicles. Last Friday, Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong said Beijing was contemplating eliminating some or all of the 17 per cent value-added tax charged on low-emission vehicles to boost sales, without giving a timeline for implementation. The F3DM, which can be charged from household power points, can run for 100 kilometres on battery power only, according to a company statement released yesterday. 'That compares with a 25km range for vehicles under development at General Motors Corp and Toyota Motor, which are scheduled for release after 2010,' said the company. Hong Kong-listed BYD plans to export its own-branded electric cars to the US and western Europe by 2010.