Nearly everything ever written about BYD in the Western press has focused on the Chinese automaker’s hybrid or electric drivetrains, or the firms and investors who have bought into their future promise. It’s an understandable state of affairs: after all, the firm started life as a cell phone battery maker, providing OEM cells for firms like Nokia. Meanwhile, BYD sold nearly a half-million cars in China last year, all gas powered, doubling both sales and profit over 2008 levels. And with plans for a pure EV now on hold, BYD is going back to basics, readying a range of new, allegedly more upscale, gas-powered cars for the Beijing Auto Show later this month.
Not that BYD has completely abandoned its ambitions for alt-drivetrain technology: it will still be showing its F3DM and F6DM hybrids, as well as the now-test-fleet-only E6 EV. But these auto show stalwarts will be joined by five new models, including two compact sedans and three new vehicles based (apparently) a new full-sized platform.
One hopes that the G6 sedan might be more originally styled than its Pontiac-derivative name suggests, while the M6 MPV is clearly a Toyota Previa to the E6’s Honda Odyssey. The final piece of BYD’s upscale, gas-only line is the S6 SUV [pictured above], which Chinacartimes recently caught on camera. Though it all looks a bit crude by US standards, at least BYD is easing off the EV/Hybrid hype to concentrate on gas powered routes to world dominance. After all, nearly all of BYD’s sales come from the rapidly aging F3 sedan, which is said to compete almost solely on price point (nearly all of BYD’s vehicles sell for about $10k or less). Another clue that BYD is starting to get pragmatic about what it takes to take on the global players comes from the Global Times, which reports that BYD has inked a deal to buy metal-dies factory belonging to Japan’s Ogihara Corp. Maybe spending time cuddling up to VW and Daimler has done BYD some good.