By on October 29, 2008

While TTAC has Tesla on a Death Watch, aspiring Chinese EV-automaker BYD is getting massive street cred in The People’s Republic. In case you’ve got something called a life, BYD stands for “Build Your Dreams.” Since late September, “BYD” also stands for “Buffet’s Yankee Dollars.” Omaha’s Oracle liked the company so much he wrote a check for $230m for a 9.89 percent stake. [NB: Buffet knows the tax consequences lurking in a CFC— and we’re not talking chlorofluorocarbons.] Based in Shenzen, BYD is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of rechargeable batteries for cell phones. According to The New York Times, “the company also has a fast-growing auto-making unit that accounts for nearly a third of its revenue and makes fuel-efficient compact and subcompact cars for the Chinese market.” They have some bitchin hybrid and plug-in cars in the works with specs that scare the BYDickens out of the competition– if they’re half true. OK, make the jump for today’s BYDispatches.

1.)  Gasgoo reports that BYD is on course to sell 200k automotive units this year; double that next year. The F0 model (a clone of the Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot107) just made the Top Ten in China. The company will soon begin selling its first electric hybrid car in China, followed by an all-electric vehicle that could go 300 kilometers on a single full charge. [ED: or not.] The biggest break-through: fast-charging in 15 minutes to 80 percent capacity.

2.)  Reuters reports that BYD has signed up 10 distributors for its plug-in hybrid car in Europe ahead of its targeted entry in 2010. Fleet buyers including Deutsche Post AG’s delivery arm DHL Express have indicated initial interest, or so BYD says. Henry Li, General Manager of BYD Auto’s export trade division is electrified by the news. “We’ll start selling in Europe before we get into the United States.”

3.)  Motorauthority says that BYD hybrids and plug-ins will definitely be on sale in the U.S. in 2010, after BYD is done “talking to some third-party consulting and engineering companies to get a thorough understanding of the safety standards” in the U.S. Good thinking.

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9 Comments on “China’s BYD EVs Headed to Europe. Then Stateside. Allegedly....”

  • avatar

    This company is well worth watching. I’ve had my eye on them for a couple of years, given that I think the oil is going to get more difficult to obtain/cost more/cause more upset and wars than it’s eventually worth to society – and we clearly have to move in another direction.

    BYD’s big problem is that they’ve had a nasty habit of copying Toyota designs. Given that they are obviously aware that they cannot simply sell facelifted ripped-off prior gen Corollas and Accords in nations with real courts and proper intellectual property rights, they surely are moving towards designing their own cars.

    Frankly, if they can’t yet get there, they could simply hire one of the Italian coachbuilders to do it for them, at least on their first generation “western market export” cars.

    It’s not like this wasn’t done by the Japanese – it was. The 1966-1971 Nissan Cedric (aka Datsun 2000 in some markets) was done by Pininfarina, for gosh’s sakes, and Diahatsu and others also used Italian houses. (No the Cedric/2000 was never sold in the USA).

    I saw the BYD cars at the Detroit Auto Show in January and have to admit I was impressed.

    Hopefully, after we get done experimenting with Socialism or National Socialism over the next 4 years, we’ll come to our senses and start working towards intelligently having this once great country (America) run well on our behalf again.

    One bright spot is the fact that we have the means of generating electricity under-foot. I read just the other day that the gummint actually did something good and useful (for a change) and has allowed options on millions of acres in the US, for future thermal-hydro power development.

    Using/tapping the heat and power under the earth to produce electricity.

    Hey, BYD? When you’re ready to build car assembly and production plants in the US? Please give western Michigan more than a glance, ok?

  • avatar

    @menno: Designing a car is fairly easy. Engineering it so that it’s light ( = efficiient ) and safe ( = crashworthy ) is quite a feat. The big companies do it with supercomputers, can crash their cars over night and fix them the next morning, all virtually. Cars are optimized for the standard tests, woe is you if your car crashes differently than the standard.

    Another problem is cost and environmental impact of the new batteries. A regular lead/acid battery can be recycled just fine, a NICAD, Lithium and NIMH are rough on the environment.

  • avatar

    Hi Bertel. Unsure how BYD’s battery technology hits the environment. Isn’t it LiFe? Lithium IRON? (NOT ion).

    Yes, I agree fully in all that you say. Hence, I suspect that when BYD had already engineered and styled an F6 (mid-sized 2.4 litre D class auto) and plastered renderings of it all on the net, as well as some prototype photos – then replaced it with a near carbon copy of the last-gen Accord – it probably was after they crashed their own efforts and discovered they’d made a hash of it.

  • avatar

    Mr. Buffett is breaking all of his own rules with this one.

    He is known for always avoiding technological risk. Plenty here. His favorite age of a company? More than a hundred years old. This is more like a startup company.
    Invest in a car company right before a deep recession is hitting? Pretty dumb.

    It seems to me Mr. Buffett is in over his head with this investment.

    I would think if Mr. Buffett is going to invest in a car company it’s going to be AAA-rated, (almost) 100 year old Toyota.

    But then again, considering the small amount involved, it was probably a project of one of his underlings.

  • avatar

    EJ, I suspect that Mr. Buffett is actually in charge of this one, as in “everything is going to hell in a handbasket – time to think outside the box, times are a-changin’ after all.”

    Only a supposition on my part.

    But Toyota don’t have this game-changing cheap battery, in fact, nobody else does.

    The ironic part is, BYD is apparently happy to sell parts to all and sundry.

    But the usual “NIH” factor (“not invented here”) and that ole debil, pride, come into play…

    Hence BYD may well stand for “Buffett – Yes – Dividends” before the decade is out.

  • avatar

    BYD could well be successful; but so could a lot of other risky companies he doesn’t invest in.

    Of course, Buffett benefits from ‘the Buffett effect’: whatever he gets into attracts copycats, pushing up those stocks and virtually guaranteeing a profit for Buffett himself, at least in the short term.

    It doesn’t always work. Last year Buffett invested in USG at $46/share. That stock is now at $15/share.
    So, you want a stock tip from Warren Buffett? Buy USG.

  • avatar

    Here’s another reason Mr. Buffett probably went with BYD:

    Glad I’ve got my Prius…

    Already the economy is hurting folks. I am giving a carpool ride to a colleague one day a week since they are down to one car in their household now. Their house is WAY bigger and “finer” than ours, and WAY WAY WAY bigger and “finer” than ours was back when I was her and her husband’s age.

    Sign of the times; living in a McMansion and unable to afford a car to get to work.

  • avatar

    Battery technology is fast becoming the key technology in the car business. Forget ICE or even Hybrid technology. It’s fast becoming obsolete and worthless. If BYD’s claims for range, recharge time and durability are legit they are far ahead in the race for the car of tomorrow, which is the battery electric vehicle.

    Now would be a good time for all other car makers to get involved in advanced battery technology. Remember the dinosaurs guys…Warren Buffett certainly did….

  • avatar

    I want the car and the woman and I will be happy to travel to China to get either one.

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