With electric vehicles being the next big thing, seems that everyone and their uncle wants in on the genre, and the idea of making them mucho affordable in a region like Southeast Asia promises the sound of a cash register going off continuously, big time.

It looks like the Chinese can clearly hear those bells – the Nikkei reports that Chinese business owners are set to form a joint venture with a Vietnamese trading firm to make low-cost electric vehicles in northern Vietnam, at an estimated initial cost of US$50 million. Chinese businessman Zeng Fanyu and other company owners will have a 90% stake in the venture, with a Vietnamese trading company holding the remaining 10%.

The new company, which would be the first electric vehicle maker in Southeast Asia, recently started laying the groundwork for a factory in a special economic zone in Lang Son province in the country – the plant is slated for completion by the end of this year, with a view to being operational in 2012. In the meantime, the JV has started building a distribution network in southern China and northern Vietnam, and plans to procure components, materials, assembly line facilities and machine tools from electric vehicle ventures in China.

The report adds that the company will take advantage of cheap local labour to build two- to seven-seaters that will sell for an average price of 200 million dong (RM30,000), and supply these low-cost EVs to China and three countries in Southeast Asia. The countries were unnamed in the report.