The Truth About Cars » BYD The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:03:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » BYD Beijing 2014: Daimler and BYD Introduce Denza EV With 300KM Range Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:41:32 +0000 DENZA_at_Auto_China_2012_11 (1)

The first fruits of Daimler and BYD’s Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. joint venture is on display at the Beijing auto show this week. The partnership intends to blend BYD’s latest battery technology with more than a century of manufacturing experience at the maker of Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Schedule to launch on the Chinese market in September of this year, the Denza is a five passenger car with a 115 hp (86 kW) electric motor that has a top speed of 93 mph and a range of up to 186 miles (300 km). Produced at a factory in Shenzhen, the Denza was jointly designed in China, reflecting the Chinese government’s policy requiring foreign automakers to establish joint technical centers in China and to share technology with their Chinese partners.


Recharging times are stated as 7 hours with conventional mains voltage and less than an hour with high speed chargers. The lithium ion phosphate battery pack is rated at 47.5 kWh and apparently in response to some Teslas catching fire, Denza publicity stresses how the battery pack is located underneath the body for safety and that it will automatically disconnect and quickly discharge safely in the event of an accident. Since the average driver in China travels 50 to 80 kilometers a day, with a 300 km range, most customers will only have to recharge a couple of times a week.

denza03 (1)

One feature that I look forward to see if it makes it to production is the fact that the show car has suicide doors in the back and no B-pillar.

The Denza will have a starting price of RMB 369,000, about $60K at current rates, though there are subsidies from the Chinese national and local governments that reduce that price by about 1/3. In addition to those subsidies, the Denza will benefit by being exempted from many of the policies that Chinese cities have implemented to reduce congestion and pollution. Owners will be able to get a license plate in Beijing without participating in the mandatory lottery, and Shanghai and Shenzhen wave registration fees for Denza owners’ plates.

DENZA_at_Auto_China_2012_11 (1) denza02 BYDDenzaVoorkant-630x350 ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? denza-logo_100386966_m denza03 ]]> 7
California Drops Wage Dispute Charges Against BYD’s Electric Bus Factory Mon, 03 Feb 2014 12:00:12 +0000 00219b82471712ed5dca08

China’s BYD Co. has announced that a California labor law watchdog had dropped charges against it over wage issues regarding the payment of Chinese nationals working for the company’s BYD Coach & Bus subsidiary in the United States.  Reuters is reporting that California’s Labor Commissioner’s office in October accused BYD of failing to pay five Chinese workers temporarily working in the United States the required minimum wage of $8/hr.


According to BYD, the labor commission withdrew the wage case against the company’s electric bus building facility in California after BYD produced documents that showed its workers were paid the equivalent of $12 to $16 (73 to 97 yuan) per hour. While that case was withdrawn, the labor commission had objections to the company’s practice of paying wages in yuans, rather than in U.S. currency and BYD has agreed to pay to pay a fee of $1,900 (11,500 yuan) to resolve the matter, it said.

Other aspects of the Labor Commissioner’s investigation will continue. BYD denies allegations that employees’ check stubs failed to include necessary information and that eight employees were denied rest breaks.

As Chinese companies locate operations in the United States and Europe they are discovering that they have to operate under more stringent industrial regulations and labor laws than they are used to back home.

BYD currently employs 50 local workers in California and says that it plans to add 100 more next year to fill contracts already signed to supply electric transit buses to the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach as well as to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

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BYD Coming to America in 2015 Tue, 07 Jan 2014 05:41:47 +0000 BYD Qin

Backed by Warren Buffet and his investment company Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.,Automotive News is reporting that Chinese automaker BYD plans to deliver four models to the United States in late 2015.

This move comes after BYD founder and chair Wang Chauanfu spent the past three years reorganizing his company, cutting the number of dealerships under the automaker’s banner while narrowing losses with their solar business with help from state incentives.

In turn, investors rewarded the changes with a 63 percent surge in the share price — currently holding around $5 USD — though nowhere near the peak of $11 BYD saw in October 2008; Berkshire Hathaway paid around $1 per share for 9.9 percent ownership of the company back in that year.

Though BYD has yet to bring over any of their cars to the U.S., they will begin manufacturing of their K9 electric bus in March at its factory in Lancaster, Calif.; a plan to sell the e6 electric hatchback by the end of 2010 was postponed.

Leading the charge will be the Qin (pronounced Chin) plug-in hybrid, which already arrived in local market showrooms last month. The $31,400 (before state subsidies) sedan books it from nil to 60 in under 6 seconds, and possesses a 43-mile range in electric-only travel.

That said, the Qin, along with its electric brethren, may be a better sell in Los Angeles than in Beijing, as high prices, safety concerns, and a lack of supporting infrastructure have held back China’s goal of 5 million alternative-energy vehicles by 2020.

However, the state government unveiled a new program last September which is supposed to alleviate the issue through heavy promotion of new-energy vehicles in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou using subsidies through 2015, which should help BYD in local adoption of their plug-in and EV offerings.

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BYD Responds to Calif. Charges of Labor Violations & Fine With Promise To Hire More U.S. Workers As It Hopes To Expand Production To Europe Tue, 05 Nov 2013 13:00:53 +0000 BYD-Electric-Bus-e1337188133189

In response to charges that it’s California electric bus building operation has been violating that state’s labor and minimum wage laws in the way it employs Chinese nationals, the company issued a statement saying that it is  “dedicated to ensuring that its employees are treated fairly” and that it would be hiring more American employees at its California electric bus factory. BYD explained that the Chinese nationals in question were engineers and experts that had been loaned by the parent company to transfer technology and train local employees and that they are not displacing any American workers. California labor officials had hit BYD with a $100,000 fine, charging that the company was paying its Chinese employees only $1.50/hr. The company is appealing that fine. BYD currently employs about 40 local workers at the plant. The state investigation was the result of charges by labor rights group Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy of minimum wage and other labor violations. Last week, BYD had said that the group was spreading “misinformation”.

BYD is stepping up efforts to sell electric vehicles overseas. The California facility is intended to supply contracts for electric buses for the Los Angeles and Long Beach municipalities. In Europe, BYD’s electric buses are in trial service in a number of cities and Amsterdam’s  Schiphol airport has ordered 35. The company plans to build those buses somewhere in Europe.  “We need to have around 100 sales in Europe to justify a plant and we believe that day is really near now,” Isbrand Ho, BYD Europe’s managing director, said in a statement. As yet no location has been chosen.

BYD electric buses have been tried out in Paris, Bremen, Bonn, Madrid, Barcelona, Salzburg, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Brussels and Budapest, and trials will begin in London as well. The electric bus is 12 meters (37 feet) long and is claimed to have a range of 250 kilometers (150 miles) in urban use, powered by lithium iron phosphate battery cells.

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BYD Wants to Rule The World Hong Kong’s Taxi Market Wed, 15 May 2013 16:23:41 +0000

Scaling back from its former intentions of becoming “China’s No. 1 automaker by 2015 and the world’s leading car maker by 2025,” China’s BYD now wants to become a world-class fish in Hong Kong’s taxi pond.

BYD has six electric e6 taxis running in Hong Kong, across the border from its Shenzhen, China, headquarters.  Its plans call for much more: “We expect to increase the number of e6 taxis in Hong Kong to 5,000 in three years,” Liu Xueliang, general manager of BYD Asia Pacific sales, told Reuters. Hong Kong Taxi & Public Light Bus Association said it is renting from BYD an initial fleet of 45 taxis for around US$1,000 each per month.

Back home in China, BYD sold about 1,700 e6 vehicles last year. They go for around $60,000 and are reluctantly bought by local governments and taxi companies that want to shine their green image.

Hong Kong’s taxi fleet consists mostly of often LPG-powered Toyota Crowns. Last year, BYD announced plans to export 50 e6 taxis to London.

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Shanghai Auto Show: BYD And Daimler Show First Glimpse At Joint EV While BYD Gets Mad At Reuters Sat, 20 Apr 2013 14:39:17 +0000

The Denza shows its stripes

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.

More and more say that is not true at all

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.

Zetsche did not show

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.”

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BYD Seen Ditching Gasoline-Powered Cars Fri, 19 Apr 2013 13:32:37 +0000

BYD, the company we visited in yesterday’s story might ditch  conventional gasoline-powered cars and focus on electrics, Reuters says in an exclusive story,

Two senior BYD executives told Reuters that along with dropping gasoline-fueled cars, the company also might offload its solar panel business and concentrate on new greener battery technologies.

BYD will unveil its Green Hybrid Technology at the Shanghai auto show on Saturday. Reuters sees BYD focus on hybrid cars, with a smattering  of  all-electric and ‘plug-in’ electric hybrid cars thrown in.

The story caused raised eyebrows and snickers among the auto executives that congregate in Shanghai for the auto show that will open its doors to the press tomorrow. Currently, EVs and hybrids sell only in homeopathic quantities in China. I am in Shanghai, and we’ll see what develops.

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Inside The Industry: A Visit At Denza, Daimler’s EV Joint Venture With BYD Thu, 18 Apr 2013 17:59:54 +0000

At the Shanghai Auto Show, which opens to the public on April 21, and to tens of thousands of alleged members of the media the day before, the child of one of the auto industry’s oddest couples will be shown – at least in prototype form. It is the Denza EV, the product of a mésalliance between the world’s oldest and proudest automaker, Daimler, and a company that entered the annals of contemporary automotive history as the most brazen rip-off artist.

Of course we are talking of BYD, the Shenzhen, China, based maker of half the world’s cellphone batteries and a dwindling number of cars. A while ago, I visited an intrepid team of German engineers, shacked up at BYD, to jointly develop an electric car. They were friendly, hospitable, and as forthcoming as possible under the strange circumstances. For months, I could not bring it over me to put my fellow countrymen and expats in the dim light this story would project. Their job is tough enough. But in the interest of timeliness and journalistic duty, here it goes.

In the hinterlands of Shenzhen, the formerly sleepy fisher village that butts against the border to Hong Kong, and that, converted into a special economic zone in 1980, became the birthplace of unbridled capitalism with Chinese characteristics, lies Pingshan, the home of BYD. East of it is Foxconn, the company that makes your iPhone, and to the north, all the way to Guangzhou, the former Canton, are miles after miles of factories that form the world’s biggest consumer of chips and solder. America may have Silicon Valley, Shenzhen has the world’s Silicon Alps. In the midst of these Alps is an oddity, a car factory.

BYD started making cars in 2002. In 2009, it had China’s best-selling car, the F3, a $9,000 Doppelgänger of the 9th generation Corolla. In a story about BYD’s reverse engineering, Ed Niedermeyer said “the BYD F3 is so similar to Toyota’s Corolla that many buyers pay an extra fee to have Toyota badges affixed, making the F3 nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.”

While BYD flooded China with Corolla-copies, true believers in the second coming of the electric vehicle elevated the company to sainthood. BYD promised them what they wanted to hear: EVs with a miraculous range of 300km (186 miles), powered by a likewise phenomenal battery with a recharge-time of only ten minutes at a mind-blowing price of no more than $22,400 – before subsidies. The miracle never materialized.

But another miracle happened. BYD entered a marriage with Daimler. At the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu charmed Daimler’s Zetsche. Rumors that Volkswagen and BMW might also be interested hastened the wedding.

Arno Röhringer is CEO of the Daimler/BYD joint venture that is making the electric vehicle that will be the big breakthrough. Complying with the wishes of the Chinese government that all EVs have a new Chinese brand, the car will be badged as a Denza.

After having worked “beim Daimler” for most of his life, Shenzhen is Röhringers first foreign assignment, and it might be his last. Röhringer plays the specifications of the Denza close to his polo-shirted chest. The car will use the chassis of the Mercedes B-Class, or rather “it is based on the concept of a B-Class” as Röhringer insists, it will hit the market by the end of the year, and it will cost “above 400,000 RMB” ($65,000). The rest is a secret. At least until Saturday.

Instead, we discuss the challenges of a car that satisfies the high standards of a Mercedes engineer, and making it in a factory that isn’t known for its high degree of sophistication.

Asked whether his joint venture partners are capable of producing the consistent stellar quality his employer Daimler has been known for the last 125 years, Herr Röhringer says that he is deeply convinced that they definitely will be, no doubt, up to the task, “once they have internalized the necessary processes.”

“They learn fast,” Röhringer praises his Chinese charges. “When we came here, the work looked a bit, you know, like,” and he fixates a group of surface-mounted electric boxes in the corner of his office. The covers have separated from the boxes, a multicolored mess of wires spills out like entrails from a stuck pig. “Don’t you hate that?” Röhringer asks. “First the damned plug needs a hammer to go into the socket, and when you pull the plug, the socket comes with it.” I nod emphatically. “Their solution is to put a dab of paint over it.” More emphatic nods. Having lived here, I feel the pain.

Shared experiences with Chinese indoor plumbing help illustrate the obstacles a German engineer faces on his mission to impart German know-how on Chinese joint venture partners. The common sink trap is a modern convenience that has not found its way to all parts of China. Bathrooms in multi-million dollar mansions regularly lack the U-shaped schedule 40 PVC pipe that acts as a barrier to the smellier reaches of the plumbing. It also keeps the occasional earring of the missus from going to shit. A sink devoid of the trap means atrocious stink in your bathroom. Withouth the clever trap, you live and most of all breathe the aroma of the bowel movements from all your Chinese friends and neighbors living up and down the drain. Prone to occasional outbreaks of the noro virus and other dysenterious diseases as it is, China really should open up to the amenities of the sink trap, Röhringer and I decide. After sharing tips of how to twist a 4 inch flexible corrugated metal pipe into a field expedient sink trap, and discussing that Chinese houses, once built, last “maybe four or five years,” we go back to the topic of making high quality cars.

“I quickly disassociated myself from the idea of making things here like we make them back in Germany,” says the engineer who has the trademark white hair of the upper technical echelon of German automakers. “If you take a look at the paint booth for instance, you see big differences.” That’s as far as I can lure Röhringer into saying bad things about China.

The engineer with 30 years of experience would have a glorious career as a diplomat. Challenged with the story of BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu, who bought his first Mercedes only to tell his workers to take it apart, Röhringer says: “So what, we do that all the time.” When I ask whether he’s worried that Mercedes might give away its know-how, only to be flooded with cheap copies, Röhringer says that “all we have to do is keep one step ahead of them.”

If you want to get unfiltered truth, you need to take the ferry between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Half of Röhringer’s contingent of 100-odd German engineers lives down by the beach in Dameisha. The other half, usually those who brought wives and children, live in Shekou, a part of Shenzhen where there is a German baker, and a Bierhaus, and where expats live in walled compounds with black-clad guards who practice what would be called reverse discrimination in the West: If you are Chinese, you are stopped at the gate. If you are Caucasian, you waltz right through.

The big attraction of Shekou is its high speed ferry that connects with downtown Hong Kong, its shopping, and western-style medical facilities. Your seat neighbor is often German, and from Daimler. If you don’t tell him that you work for the Truthaboutcars, you get the truth. “I don’t think this project will get anywhere,” says a chassis man in the next seat. “There has been repeated talk of calling it off, but I guess we’ll finish it.” Roehringer’s 3 year contract expires in July. When I talked to him, he was hoping it would be extended.

On a recent ferry trip, I heard that a fresh contingent of 3 year contract engineers has arrived. It looks like the odd couple will stay together for a while.




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Man With Rebadged Red Car Proposes Sex To Japanese Wed, 13 Mar 2013 18:59:39 +0000

A fiery red car, seen in Beijing. An aggressive bumper sticker, showing the owner is very angry with Japan. Or, judging from the sticker, maybe it’s hot love? It’s all about those islands, which happen to sit on top of oil, and straight in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. What is this motherland-loving man driving?

He drives a BYD F0, which happens to be a copy of the Toyota Aygo. This we can explain as a brave act of defiance, as in not just nooky Nipponese, jazz Japanese trademarks!

With that out of the way, let us proceed to the front of:

Cool, cartoons. But what about bout the badge on the grille?!?

It’s a fake Scion badge! Scion is a Toyota-brand, marketed in the US. This we cannot explain as a brave act of battle, oh no, this is treason to the Chinese case. The owner should have kept the righteous BYD badge.

Loser …

Dutchman Tycho de Feyter runs, a blog about cars in China, from Beijing, China. He also collects die-cast models of Chinese cars.

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BYD Finally Exports Cars: 50 Taxis To London Wed, 24 Oct 2012 11:04:01 +0000

BYD had made lots of announcements of exporting cars to the free world, but none of them have panned out so far. Remember BYD’s plans to take over America? Now finally we have what Reuters calls BYD’s “first overseas deal.” BYD will ship 50 e6 electric taxis to London in the second quarter of 2013.

BYD’s all-electric e6 did not quite take China by storm. The main customer is BYD’s home city of Shenzhen, where 300 e6 taxis silently prowl the streets since 2010 (see above for TTAC’s world-exclusive iPhone photography). BYD will add 500 more, Reuters says.

In London, the 50 e-taxis will join the fleet of London’s greentomatocars mini cab service that currently runs mostly Toyota Prii.

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Been There, Done That: BYD Introduces Watch That Starts The Car Tue, 23 Oct 2012 11:46:16 +0000 Chinese upstart carmaker BYD isn’t as lucky as it used to be. Its sales and stock price are deep in the Chinese squat toilet. However, it is outdoing itself in the gadget dept. BYD,  the company that brought us the remote controlled car, now brings us the watch that opens your car’s doors and starts it. Call it keyless entry that goes with the times.

According to Chinacartimes, the new BYD watch is a keyfob molded into a quartz watch. The car owner only needs to wear the watch in the proximity of the car to gain access to the car and to turn on the engine. The technology is proprietary to BYD. The company has already applied for 36 patents in China, of which 9 have been granted. It has applied for 21 patents abroad.

Message to Aston Martin: Monitor those patent applications. In 2008, Aston Martin and Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre teamed up for a watch that also unlocked the $260,000 Aston martin DBS. Four years ago, that watch wasn’t smart enough to also start the car (a key was needed for that), but progress can’t be stopped.

(Now what am I supposed to do with the valet parking guy? Give him my watch?)

(Come to think of it, I have long stopped wearing a watch.)

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BYD Launches Remote Controlled Car Tue, 21 Aug 2012 14:31:52 +0000

BYD’s F3 received worldwide acclaim for being a Corolla ripoff. When the new F3 was announced at the Beijing Auto Show, Carnewschina wrote: “The new F3 is design-wise slightly better than the old BYD F3 which was a copy of the old Toyota Corolla, the new F3 is a copy of the new Corolla but slightly less obvious. For BYD, we call that a huge improvement!” Come on, Carnewschina, the new BYD F3 has something the Corolla does not have: A remote control. Not a remote control for doors. You can drive the car remotely like a toy.

According to a new Carnewschina  report, BYD says it is handy for parking, or when it rains and you don’t have an umbrella to walk to your car. The distance is 10 meters, and the speed is limited to a 2 km/h crawl.

The rest of the car is run of the mill: 1.5 liter engine with 109hp and 145nm, 5-speed manual, or a 1.5 turbo with 154hp and 240nm, mated to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed DCT.  Says an incredulous Carnewschina: “This high-tech engine is, says BYD, developed by BYD.“

Probably because the F3 name is a bit tainted, BYD ditched the F3 and calls the new remote controlled car “Su Rui.” Which is Chinese  for “quick and sharp.”

China’s sharpest minds probably already are working on taking the speed limiter out of the remote control function,  for, well, starters.

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Automakers Worried About A123 Deal, Stabenow And Levin Silent, No Phonecalls From The President Fri, 17 Aug 2012 09:20:20 +0000

U.S. Senators long have warned of an exodus of American know-how to China. Last year, Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin complained to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk about another attempt by China ”to illegally gain an unfair advantage over the U.S. automobile industry that will cost our country jobs. The United States must respond strongly to stand up for American businesses and working families.”

A year later, the exodus is in full swing, and it starts to hurt. This time, it pains automakers to see how Chinese companies are getting their hands on taxpayer-funded secrets.

Battery maker A123, hailed by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as a contributor to “63,000 jobs,” praised by Senator Levin for hiring “thousands of employees by next year,” praised again by Senator Stabenow for creating “thousands of jobs for us in Michigan,” will power the creation of thousands of jobs in China.

Two years ago, this video was posted on Youtube, complete with an allegedly impromptu telephone call, President Obama congratulated A123 “on this tremendous milestone” of being “the first American factory to start high volume production of advanced vehicle batteries.” Two years, a $249 million grant from the Obama administration, a $135 grant and tax credit from the State of Michigan later, A123 is just about out of money, and being rescued by the Chinese. China’s Wanxiang Group wants to pay $465 million for A123, a move that “may help China unlock the secrets to critical and advanced green-car technologies,” as Reuters writes in a thorough analysis of the deal.

Author Norihiko Shirouzu talked to “engineering chiefs from two global auto makers,” (he names GM and Toyota in the lede, but does not connect the names to the unnamed sources) who “expressed concern at the prospect that A123 could lose control of its fiercely guarded battery design and manufacturing know-how. They are particularly worried that Wanxiang might shift part of A123′s research and development activities to China.”

Said one Chief Engineer to Reuters:

“I don’t care if A123 manufactures more battery cells and packs in China. That wouldn’t jeopardize its technological advantage. But showing what’s inside their black box … the technology that makes those battery cells packed with energy, to its Chinese investor, which has its own battery business, is completely another matter.”

The secret sauce of A123’s batteries is iron-phosphate, a chemical that makes sometimes violently flammable lithium-ion battery much safer. Iron-phosphate is also used in batteries made by China’s BYD, a fact mentioned by Shirouzu three years ago, when he was still writing for the Wall Street Journal. There had been a low level intellectual property conflict between A123 ever since. There were reports that A123 was looking to sue BYD over the batteries, but apparently, A123 soon had more pressing problems.

Wanxiang, says Reuters, profited from the troubles of the U.S. auto industry, “having bought up distressed parts makers over the past decade. It formed a joint venture which bought and turned around Driveline Systems, an axle maker in Illinois, and has taken over parts operations from Ford Motor Co, among others in the U.S. Midwest.”

Today, Reuters writes in a separate report that the A123 deal has closed:

“A123 Systems said the planned investment includes an initial credit extension of $25 million that it expects to receive this week. The rest coming through a mix of convertible notes and bridge finance with warrants, as certain conditions are met. The line of credit would help A123 keep making batteries for electric and hybrid cars. Last month, the company said it was left with only 5 months of cash. If all the warrants and notes are later converted to shares, Wanxiang will own 80 percent of the firm, A123 said in a statement. The agreement follows the non-binding memorandum of understanding that A123 signed last week.”

No protests were heard from Senators Stabenow and Levin against their baby A123 going to China. Stabenow, who used to complain that “China’s “New Energy Vehicles” plan will harm American companies and workers, cost Michigan jobs,” now chose to focus on the farm bill, and the funding of harbors.

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BYD To Make R/C Cars Tue, 19 Jun 2012 11:33:31 +0000

The previous BYD F3 was known as a more than blatant copy of the Toyota Corolla. Many buyers pay a small extra fee to have (fake) Toyota badges affixed, making the F3 nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. The next generation BYD F3 wants to be known for groundbreaking innovation: The car will be remote controlled.

Says Carnewschina:

“The F3 can be remotely started (red button), remotely moved forward, backwards, and left and right. The system works only at very low speed, but we don’t know yet how low.”

Apart from a remote control that could use a decent industrial designer, the new BYD F3 comes with a new 1.5 turbo ‘TID’ engine mated to a 6-speed DCT, an older and cheaper 1.8 liter mill will be available as well.

Carnewschina has this to say about the design of the news model:

“The new F3 is a copy of the new Corolla but slightly less obvious. For BYD, we call that a huge improvement!”

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Burning BYD EV Gets Frosty Reception Tue, 29 May 2012 12:45:14 +0000

Pictures of a burning BYD e6 sent the already beaten down BYD stock on a nose-dive yesterday.  The e6 is one of the rare BYD electric cars, used in a taxi test in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. A Nissan GT-R had crashed into two taxis, one a conventional Santana, the other an electric e6. The e6 immediately did burst into flames. Two female passengers and the driver were killed.

According to, “investors are extremely worried about implications for BYD’s electric vehicle sales.” Such as they were.

Last year, news of burning Volts and burning charging stations became the fuel of inflammatory anti-EV rhetoric. Earlier this year, GM announced a fix to its battery pack after an NHTSA investigation into why a Volt caught fire following crash testing.

The lithium used in lithium ion batteries can be extremely flammable under certain circumstances.

“Lithium burns really hot,” engineering consultant Sandy Munro told Automotive News. “But it doesn’t happen often. You have to do something pretty dramatic to make it catch fire.”

Such a dramatic incident can occur during an accident when a ;piece of steel pierces the battery case. A chemical reaction can take place and may result in a fire.. If the piercing is small, that reaction can take days or weeks to occur, Munro said.

Today, BYD issued a statement, saying its battery pack is safe because it has passed all tests “required by relevant authorities.” The stock recovered.

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Boo, Hiss: Daimler And BYD Launch Denza Brand Fri, 30 Mar 2012 16:27:00 +0000 Daimler and BYD unveiled their joint EV brand Denza today. They literally just unveiled the brand. The cars will be unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show in the last week of April. They should have kept everything covered and hire some professionals.

The brand unveiling took place at BYD’s headquarters in balmy Shenzhen, on the other side of the Hong Kong border. Carnewschina is miffed that they were not invited to the shindig. What should I say, I am in Shenzhen and nobody told me. I am glad I did not go.

Today, the Chinese counterpart of Denza was unveiled: Tengshi.

Further unveiled was a logo. It looks like a drop of something, kind of strange for an EV.

Finally unveiled was a slogan: “EV the Future.”

The Denza website is a low-budget affair that looks like it was put together with Microsoft Word at the last minute.

If Daimler and BYD have paid more than $1,000 for logo, slogan and website, then they wasted money.

Message to Daimler: All this is shockingly pedestrian, and an embarrassment. It does not at all reflect the class and refinement that usually goes into Daimler branding. If the car reflects the haphazard branding, then I don’t want to see it.

I guess the car will look like an old B Class anyway.


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Daimler Confirms Denza Rumor Without Mentioning Denza Sun, 25 Mar 2012 14:31:00 +0000

Daimler’s R&D chief Thomas Weber told Germany’s Wirtschaftswoche a big secret: Daimler will show an electric car at the Beijing auto show that opens in the last week of April. Of course, TTAC readers already knew the secret. But it is always nice to have independent verification.

Weber confirms that the car will be based on the old B-Class, that it will be built in joint venture with BYD, that it is targeted at the Chinese market, and that it will be sold under a new brand name.

You already know more. Namely that the new brand name will be ‘Denza’ for western tongues. That it will be either Tengshi or Dingcheng in Chinese, and that all logos currently under consideration look pretty awful.

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Daimler And BYD Have Chinese Baby, Named Tengshi, Or Dingcheng. Fri, 23 Mar 2012 15:02:54 +0000 Real Chinese brands are losing market share to joint ventures. The Chinese government wants to keep up appearances, and strongly suggests to joint ventures with foreigners that they should start a separate “Chinese” brand. Latest to say “hao” (yes, ok, jawohl) is Daimler.  Its joint venture with BYD to make electric cars in China will dispense with making electric Mercedes first and will instead immediately head to second base and launch a Chinese brand.

BYD-Daimler will sell its e-mobiles under the ‘Denza’ name, says Carnewschina. Chinese name and logo are still work in progress, Chinese media shows three logos and two Chinese names: Tengshi or Dingcheng. I’d say Denza is a mishmash of “Benz” (as the Chinese call a Mercedes) with a dash of Daimler. The logos are horrible, watch them at Carnewschina if you dare.

The first car will be standard SOP of these allegedly “Chinese” brands. Foreigners usually foist old designs and toolings on these imitation indigenous brands. Daimler won’t break that custom. According to Carnewschina, Denza’s first car will be an EV based on the old Mercedes-Benz B-class, codenamed ‘Tiger.’ Its electric powertrain will come from the BYD e6. The Tiger is expected to show its stripes at the Beijing Auto Show in late April.

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Fake In China: BYD To Lexus Conversion Kit, Yours For Only $95 Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:58:14 +0000 Everybody in the business knows that the BYD S6 SUV is a blatant copy of the last generation Lexus RX350 SUV. The rip-off is so blatant that BYD even registered a European patent for their carbon copy. If you don’t look close enough, pretty much the only parts that differ are the grille and some BYD badges. Mei wen ti! No problem!

For only 600 yuan or $95, you can buy this BYD to Lexus conversion kit in China. It consists of a Lexus grille and a set of badges that replace the telltale BYD signage.

Even the engine cover will be properly converted. According to Carnewschina, BYD dealers usually sell Lexus-badges and Lexus-grille straight with the S6, they even put it on for you.

A BYD S6 goes for between $14,000 and $20,000. A new, imported RX350 costs between $79,000 and $136,000 in China.

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BYD Lands In LA, Mojo Lost En Route Mon, 24 Oct 2011 21:55:23 +0000

If you’ve followed TTAC for the last several, you’ve been able to watch the meteoric rise of Build Your Dreams from humble upstart to Buffett-backed behemoth. Two years ago, BYD seemed poised to launch an unstoppable onslaught of cheap Chinese electric cars that seemed like an attractive proposition at a time when gas price angst was everywhere. Today, however, things have changed considerably. Bloomberg reports that BYD has opened its US headquarters in Los Angeles, a year behind schedule, and with fewer jobs than initially promised. And no wonder: for all intents and purposes, BYD has practically abandoned its charge to leverage its cell phone battery know-how into electric car dominance. According to Bloomberg, BYD

“has delayed plans to sell electric cars to retail buyers, citing limited availability of public chargers. Instead, it’s focusing on solar panels, batteries, LED lighting and rechargeable buses.”

But ask an old China car industry hand (say, I don’t know, TTAC Managing Editor Bertel Schmitt) about BYD’s automotive ambitions, and he’ll likely roll his eyes. “BYD was like a dirty word” says Bertel, when asked about the Shenzhen-based firm’s presence at the recent Chengdu Chinese Auto Industry Confab. And even within BYD, all you hear are the sounds of silence: MarketWatch reports the firm is in the grips of a “White Terror.” Through the first half of 2011, BYD’s sales were down 23 percent (in a growing market), net profit is reported to be down 88 percent.

So, what’s next?

“BYD will announce its first two California dealerships soon. They will offer the full range of BYD products, including electric vehicles, solar panels, LED-lighting systems, vehicle-charging equipment and energy-storage systems — large-scale batteries powered by solar panels.


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BYD Cuts Jobs And Internet Wed, 07 Sep 2011 16:59:49 +0000

Employees of Saab will soon collect unemployment benefits from the Swedish government instead from Victor Muller. They can find solace in the fact that they are not alone. It looks like former media darling and wunderkind BYD is hitting the skids.

Except here, people are not kept around for months doing nothing . They are fired. This is China, not socialist Sweden. According to  Chinacartimes, BYD announced that it will cut up to 1,800 members of staff, including underemployed 1,000 members of its sales team.

Then, BYD cut something else: Internet access in BYD offices. This after BYD staff members had voiced their displeasure on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter.

The leaks turned into a torrent, and a BYD spokesman had to post on Weibo that “there will be no disbanding of the company.”

Cut off from the ‘net, employees have to complain from home. One man said his year-end bonus for 2008 was not paid yet, indicating that BYD may have financial problems.

The fact that BYD is fishtailing may be an indicator that the long predicted consolidation of the Chinese car industry is finally beginning. The discontinuation of the subsidies ironically hit mainly independent Chinese manufacturers, while the large joint ventures remained unaffected. Smaller Chinese manufacturers are heavy in the sub 1.6 liter segment, which got it on the chin.


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Chinese EVs: And Now, Daimler And BYD Wed, 27 Jul 2011 10:01:08 +0000

After a lot of prototypes presented at Chinese car shows with hoods closed and long cables going to mock charging stations, EV development appears to get serious in China. Yesterday, Nissan announced that it is developing an EV for the Chinese market that will be sold under the Venucia brand by 2015. Daimler of all people could be further ahead.

A year ago, Daimler inked a joint venture agreement with BYD for the development of an all-electric car. Daimler’s main joint venture partner BAIC promptly raised objections. The JV appears to be alive and well nonetheless.  From the files of the Chinese patent bureau leaked finalized renderings of a fully electric car that appears to be based on Daimler’s B-Class. A whole array of pictures can be admired at Carnewschina. Word on the street is that the car will hit same by 2013.

Just like Nissan’s Chinese EV, the BYD-Daimler EV will be sold under a yet to be disclosed “Chinese” brand.

The car would probably sell better with the Mercedes star on it, especially to brand-conscious Chinese, but if the Chinese government insists on Chinese brands, then that’s what the government will get.


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Shanghai Auto Show: BYD, Get A Handle On This Fri, 22 Apr 2011 14:05:39 +0000

This is the BYD F0. I’ll leave it to the experts which other car this resembles. It reminds me a bit of that car, but maybe only because it’s so small and red. It should be red. It’s embarrassing.

The dashboard is a bit like this. But that’s what you get when mounting freestanding gauges.

That’s not the point of the story. When this guy climbed of the car, I saw an odd piece of plastic.

This was a door handle. If your car doesn’t survive the first day of the auto show without the door handle getting ripped off  …

… if the door handle remains unfixed on the second day of the show, and if your people turn their backs on the problem in their own booth, then you have no business making cars.

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BYD Scores Another Chinese First: Direct-Injection, Dual-Clutch Drivetrain Mon, 18 Apr 2011 21:15:21 +0000

BYD made a big splash a few years back when it became the first Chinese automaker to develop a highway-capable plug-in vehicle. That announcement brought a flurry of publicity and a Warren Buffett investment in the firm, but has yet to translate into real plugin sales success. Now, BYD is making a big splash again, by announcing another first for a Chinese automaker: an in-house, stratified-injection, all-aluminum turbocharged engine with a dual-clutch transmission. The 1.5 liter engine creates 178 lb-ft of torque from 1750-3500 RPMs, according to a BYD release, putting “[power] equivalent to a 2.4 liter gasoline engine” through “an advanced 6-Speed Tiptronic dual-clutch design” transmission. BYD insists that the drivetrain’s technology was developed in-house, but some may point to the firm’s ties to VW as a source of the know-how in China’s first modern engine.

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Big Yard-Sale Discounts: BYD Triggers Price War Sun, 20 Feb 2011 10:03:44 +0000

Why does Warren Buffett have a headache? For quite a while, China’s BYD had been nothing but a miracle. Now, the Buffett-backed wunderkind turns outcast. To move their cars, BYD slashes prices down to the bone.

The battery-maker turned EV-manufacturer was lauded for their e6 plugin that claimed a miraculous 250 miles on a single charge. The e6 never really saw the light of day. Instead, much to the amazement of the industry, BYD’s conventionally powered F3 topped China’s sales charts. A one hit wonder doesn’t make a large car factory. With 519,805 units sold in 2010, BYD ended 2010 in the #7 position as far as Chinese car companies go.

In 2010, BYD’s luck started to turn. While the Chinese car market powered ahead and rose 32.37 percent in 2010, BYD was lagging more and more behind and had to down-revise their sales targets.

In the tougher climate of January 2011, BYD’s sales cratered. Their sales were 15 percent below January 2010, Reuters reports. That while the overall market grew 13.81 percent. BYD’s sole domain, passenger vehicles, even grew 16.17 percent.

BYD had to do something, and do they did. Chinacartimes reports that BYD slashed prices across the board by up to 20 percent. All of their cars received a very closed cropped haircut. Even their bestselling F3 “will see its price cut by 3000rmb to 10,000rmb,” says CCT. That’s $456 to $1,521, and it’s a huge discount on a car that usually goes for between 60,000 and 90,000 RMB ( $9,100 to  $13,600), depending on trim and extras.  BYDs sold mostly on price, and a company that moves just half a million units a year operates with razor thin margins. After discounts, they must sell at least some of their cars at a loss.

China Daily expects a price war among domestic lower-priced car manufacturers. They reckon that home-grown low-end manufacturers will be at each other’s throats. However, “the sales outlook on the mainland may not be as bad for foreign carmakers such as General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG as they will be for the likes of BYD and Geely,” the government-owned paper notes.

These developments don’t seem to be unwelcome in government circles. Foreign carmakers such as GM and VW are involved in joint ventures with government-owned SOEs (state owned enterprises), whereas the homegrowns are mostly privately owned. Nobody really knows how many car manufacturers are there in China (the guesses range from 60 to 120), but there definitely are too many.  Beijing wants to prune the jungle down to 8 to 10 carmakers, and has tried its hand in command consolidation for more than a year. So far, with little effect. Now, the supposedly communist government lets market forces do the dirty work.

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