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Chinese Automaker BYD Enters U.S. Electric Car Race

By Stacy Feldman

Jan 15, 2009

GM's Chevy Volt, which will hit showrooms in November 2010, may be the most anticipated electric car in the US, but there's yet another competitor on the way: Chinese automaker BYD has affirmed that it will have a range of pure electric and plug-in hybrid models in the American market in 2011.

BYD, short for Build Your Dreams, made the announcement this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit -- a month after it began selling the world's first mass-produced plug-in hybrid, the F3DM, in China. Here's what BYD Chairman and President Wang Chuanfu had to say, via :

By 2011 our electric car would be a proven and mature product after three years of existence in China, while the Volt would just be a year old. Besides, The F3DM will be sold at around $20,000 in the U.S. while price of Volt is not expected to be under $40,000.

The F3DM plug-in can travel up to 62 miles on a charge (compared with 40 miles for the Volt) and has a top speed of 99 miles per hour. Its one-liter gas engine takes over when the battery runs low. Full recharging takes seven hours in a household outlet, or about three at special charging stations. Ten minutes in a BYD outlet quick-charges the battery to 50 percent capacity.

In addition to the F3DM, BYD said its future lineup in the US would include the five-passenger, all-electric crosser e6, which the company says can get 250 miles on a full charge. If that claim is true -- and it has its skeptics -- that would make BYD battery packs superior to anything currently being delivered or promised by any other automaker. Via :

...the closest anyone has come to offering similar technology is a claim by Chrysler regarding their Dodge Circuit EV. In their press release they state the EV should achieve "zero tailpipe emissions and 150-200 mile driving range" if it comes to production.

BYD is China's largest manufacturer of rechargeable batteries and the world's second-largest producer of cell phone batteries. The key to its cars is its lithium iron phosphate battery -- or "ferrous oxide" -- which BYD has called "inherently safe" because it is more chemically stable than the conventional lithium-ion battery.

In September, Warren Buffet's MidAmerican Energy Holdings bought a ten percent stake in BYD for $230 million. He did it for the battery alone. MidAmerican Chairman David Sokol explains, :

The only part that played into [the investment decision] was the battery technology...Whether or not [BYD] can manufacture their own cars isn't that relevant to us because we see their real expertise is in the development of the batteries, the motors, the control systems for that...That's not to say that they can't make a nice car, but a lot of people can make a nice car. The breakthrough from our perspective is their battery technology.

There's little doubt that BYD's iron battery is potentially game-changing technology. And that the company is open to licensing it to other automakers. As far as getting its own "nice" cars to market, well, BYD has said that it has inked a deal with Clal Industries and Investments to sell its plug-in in Israel in 2010. In addition to its US plans, in October that BYD has ten European distributors lined up.

Market of electric cars

The 15-year-old company started out making batteries and other components for consumer electronics, such as cell phones. Now, as many companies push into electric vehicles, BYD advertises battery prices significantly lower than other companies, which it expects will drive adoption of all-electric cars.

BYD's manufacturing costs and battery technology allow it to achieve that level now. It is relatively new to the U.S. market, so even though its stated prices are low, it's hard to compare its actual products to other manufacturers.

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Electric Cars

I see today the Chinese have an electric car that is in production and will travel 250 miles on one charge.

Congratulations to the Chinese on getting their first however something tells me that it won't be long before someone somewhere in the world will exceed this mileage.

Already in London, there are electric top up points on the streets where you can stop and charge up your electric car. There's also the added incentive where they also exempt from the annual car tax.

Technology like this will not only make this world a cleaner and healthy world to live in but will be good the ordinary man's pocket too.

Robert Lee
The Climate Change challenge

The fact that some people

The fact that some people never heard of BYD electric car wasn’t too surprising for me. Despite the fervor for electric cars, the BYD electric car is made by BYD Auto, an auto-manufacturing firm in China. The F3DM, their electric model, was unveiled in December, but it hasn't been selling and, as of now, the public isn't eligible to line up personal loans to get one, as it's aimed at fleet applications. However, they do plan to vamp up to mass production, but the cost is still a bit prohibitive – coming out to about $22,000 USD. Still, let us hope that some people line up for installment loans for green vehicles like the .

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