Hyundai Motor Co. is preparing to develop a new electric vehicle (EV) brand exclusively for Chinese consumers in a bid to further boost its presence in the world's largest automobile market, company officials said Tuesday. Beijing Hyundai Motor Co., a 50-50 joint venture between Hyundai Motor and Beijing Automotive Co. established in 2002, plans to roll out an EV model in the first half of 2012 to meet growing demand in China for environmentally friendly cars, they said. More than 10,000 new energy vehicles were sold in China last year, in line with the country's push to foster an eco-friendly automobile market. China has been encouraging its automakers to jump into the burgeoning market of hybrid and electric cars so they will be able to vie with global rivals. The Chinese government said earlier that it will invest more than 100 billion yuan (US$15.5 billion) to help nurture the new car industry over 10 years, starting this year. In May, the Chinese government launched a program to subsidize private purchases of alternative fuel cars in five cities -- Shanghai, Hangzhou, Changchun, Hefei and Shenzhen -- offering carmakers up to 50,000 yuan for each plug-in hybrid car and a maximum of 60,000 yuan for each full-electric vehicle. Chen Qingquan, chairman of the World Electric Vehicle Association, expected that the volume of new energy vehicles will reach 500,000 by 2015 in China and double to 1 million by 2020. Market watchers expect Hyundai's new vehicle will be produced at the joint venture's third factory, which is scheduled to be completed in 2012. Hyundai Motor last month saw its cumulative auto production in China exceed 3 million vehicles. The Korean automaker earlier said 363,473 units of its vehicles were sold in the January-June period, compared with 328,692 units last year.