So Denza, the odd couple joint venture between Daimler and BYD, lifted the veil of its upcoming all-electric SUV. A car in heavy camouflage rolled on stage here at the Shanghai Motor Show. The car looked, well, like the old B-Class from which it is derived.
As for the specs of the car, they remain largely foggy. Clarity is promised for the Guangzhou Auto Show, which will be in November. On a screen that was only readable by VIPs in the first row, it said that the battery will be “developed for vehicle lifetime,” that the range will be “well over 200km” (125 miles), and that the battery will disconnect from the drivetrain in case of emergency.
Joint venture partner BYD in the meantime is betting on hybrid. At the show, BYD unveiled what Reuters calls a quote self-developed unquote gasoline-electric car technology. Other carmakers, led by Toyota, are also suddenly betting big on hybrid. Toyota’s presentation today was given by the father of the Prius and designated Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada who promised a big hybrid push for and in China. The technology so far was a slow seller. Insiders expect that the Chinese government will extend bigger subsidies to buyers of hybrid cars, after the big electric car revolution in China turned out to be a bust.
Of course, BYD would not confirm the Reuters story that it might ditch gasoline-powered cars within two years to focus on mostly hybrid and a few EVs. I am told that BYD’s legal department contacted Reuters and demanded that the story is taken down. Reuters refused. Reuters reporter Norihiko Shirouzu says his sources are impeccable. Of course, the Reuters piece contained other uncouth material, such as one BYD exec saying that “The last three years have been tough, and painful at times. Everybody beat us up. A lot of long-term investors and friends of the company lost patience with us.”