China's BYD Seems to be Losing Momentum on Electric Cars

BYD E6 electric car front photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Can BYD Deliver on EV Promises?
For a while it looked like BYD would be a leader in electric cars and plug-in hybrids. They had aggressive release schedules, great battery technology (at least on paper), and being based in China, they had some cost advantages over most of their competitors. They even had backing by none other than Warren Buffett! But then we started hearing about delays and lackluster sales in China... Which brings us to now: BYD is reportedly not going to start mass-producing the electric E6 in mid-2010 as planned.
BYD E6 electric car interior photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

The South China Morning Post, via Bloomberg:

The company will make 100 E6 electric cars to be used as taxis in the city of Shenzhen, where BYD is based, the report said, citing BYD's Chairman Wang Chuanfu. Further development of the vehicles will depend on the success of the taxis, the newspaper said. (source)

But at the same time, BYD is increasing its production of non-electric cars, with a goal in 2010 that is almost double what it was in 2009.

China replaced the U.S. as the world's biggest auto market last year, when sales in China rose 46% to 13.6 million cars as the government introduced measures to encourage auto purchases amid the global financial crisis. Shenzhen-based BYD benefited from those measures, which helped the company more than double its sales to 450,000 cars in 2009. The car maker reiterated Monday its target of selling 800,000 autos this year. (source)

I hope that this is just a bump in the road and not a direction change for BYD. I doubt it is, because they are still primarily a battery maker and having all this in-house battery tech is a big competitive advantage. I doubt Warren Buffett invested because he saw great potential in the gasoline cars of BYD...

Via Bloomberg, Autoblog Green
More on BYD
Daimler Partners with BYD to Make Electric Cars for China
Photos of the BYD F3DM & F6DM Plug-in Hybrids and E6 Electric Car

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