By on August 21, 2009

Chinese battery/auto firm BYD has been on a roll since Warren Buffett took a ten percent stake in it last year. BYD recently snagged a technology-sharing agreement with VW, and just agreed to supply SAIC with its batteries. In fact, in the nine months since Buffett invested in BYD his $230 million investment has increased its value by an estimated $1 billion. Which is a good enough return for Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway Co-Chairman Charlie Munger to call BYD CEO Wang Chuan-Fu “a combination of Thomas Edison and Jack Welch—something like Edison in solving technical problems, and something like Welch in getting done what he needs to do. I have never seen anything like it.”

That’s high praise indeed, considering BYD’s problems actually selling its plug-ins in China (not to mention the disturbingly vague safety concerns). But now, the WSJ reports that BYD is “finalizing” plans to bring its E6 all-electric MPV to a “limited market” in the United States (read: California). The rumored price? Over $40,000. Which suddenly makes the Volt look a lot better. And makes us eagerly await the day when we can run a $40K comparison between a glorified Cruze and a Chinese Minivan. Surreal much?

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15 Comments on “BYD Developing US Market Plans for $40K EV...”


  • avatar
    wsn

    The rumored price? Over $40,000. Which suddenly makes the Volt look a lot better.

    No. The Volt uses an ICE. It’s 100% more expensive than other hybrids.

    The E6 is not a hybrid.

    BTW, I have more faith in a car invested by Buffet than Obama.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    It doesn’t make the Volt look any better. It just shows how many people are drinking the green-at-any-price Kool-Aid.

    And I don’t care that Warren Buffett invested in these guys; I’m not even sure who he is. The consumer will want to know whether they can take it on a 500-mile trip, have it serviced in their town, and get decent performance and resale out of it.

    If they can do math, they’ll also want to know whether there is any payback for their $40k investment not measured in decades.

  • avatar
    KarenRei

    As mentioned, the E6 is a 250 mile range electric car (ala Tesla Roadster). Not a plug-in hybrid like the Volt. $40k would be a very impressive price, even if that range figure drops (which I fully expect it will). And on top of that, you get the $7,500 tax credit.

    And I don’t care that Warren Buffett invested in these guys; I’m not even sure who he is.

    Seriously? The Oracle of Omaha? The oft richest person in the world? He built his wealth up from almost nothing through a long string of savvy investments. As of 2008, he was worth $62B (about the GDP of New Mexico).

    If they can do math, they’ll also want to know whether there is any payback for their $40k investment not measured in decades.

    But the average car *lasts* decades (almost two decades on average before hitting the scrapper). I think the key is having very flexible, well-funded financing options, including complete upfront purchase options for those who want it, and battery rental options for those who’d rather spread the cost out over time. An individual may not be willing to look at the long picture, but banks certainly are.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    No point in investing in that pesky thing called the US Economy.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    No point in investing in that pesky thing called the US Economy.

    Warren Buffet has become very rich investing in the U.S. economy. One of his big investments is General Electric which has been very successful selling the huge generators used in power plants and locomotives to China and the rest of the world.

    World trade and investing is a 2-way street and guess what – we are part of the world.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Warren Buffet has become very rich investing in the U.S. economy.

    No doubt. Perhaps he could send some of those billions he made on the back of the US Economy into innovation and US ideas for the new industry the USA will require.

    World trade and investing is a 2-way street and guess what – we are part of the world.

    Of course you are, but the USofA desperately needs more than consumerism and speculation. Who is investing in the “next big thing” that will drive growth?

    China is snapping up many of those opportunities while the the USA worries about Miley Cyrus.

  • avatar
    dilbert

    Buffet invested in the USA when it made the most economic sense for him to do so, and it helped both him and the USA.

    He didn’t become filthy rich because of pure luck. Given all the “issues” GM has, many of which has been detailed right here on this website, I don’t think very many people in the general public is dumb enough to invest in GM, much less people that read TTAC, so why in the world should Buffet invest in GM purely based on its geographic location? They have words for that, but capitalism isn’t one of them.

    If he sees another opportunity, why shouldn’t he be free to invest the money he rightfully earned and paid taxes on? I’m sure that if he sees a good opportunity in the USA, he wouldn’t hesitate to invest in it as well, as he has done many times in the past already.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ dilbert

    I’m not suggesting Buffet invest in GM, no-one would do that…. Oh wait….

    Anyway, certainly he’s clearly free to place his money anywhere he likes. If he takes his billions and invests them outside of the USA, as many seem prone to do, then Goodbye USA!

    Where is the upcoming, nation employing innovation and industry? The USA seems unable to invest in ideas and people lately. People would rather than “15%” from Bernie Madoff than 6% in a growth industry employing people and creating an ECONOMY (remember that??).

    Buffet’s could try his hand at creating the next leading industry for the US.

  • avatar
    v7rmp7li

    China try to ruin US economy.
    Chinese try to kill america auto industry.
    US must block all China products.

  • avatar
    v7rmp7li

    Americans must choose GM Volt over this for save US economy. Remember, fasicst state china try to ruin all world economy.

  • avatar
    v7rmp7li

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzoRdDssL1w

    Typical china made vehicle.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Buffet’s could try his hand at creating the next leading industry for the US.

    Buffet has done that, such as his investment in General Electric, and for many years he has made many investment in well run and innovative U.S. companies.

    Unfortunately now while we give welfare to GM and Chrysler the Chinese and Germans are supporting companies that are experimenting with solar energy and batteries.

  • avatar
    AG

    “BTW, I have more faith in a car invested by Buffet than Obama.”

    wsn, Buffet also invested in Obama by backing him for President.

  • avatar
    dilbert

    Pete Moran: I think Buffet has made a huge contribution to the American economy, I’m no economist, but I’d say he’s in the top 25 of all time, easy.

    To blast him for investments in China as somehow unpatriotic or unamerican is to overlook his long history of contributions he made to our country. A contribution that is orders of magnitudes more than what you, or I have contributed, economically.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ dilbert

    To blast him for investments in China as somehow unpatriotic or unamerican is to overlook his long history of contributions he made to our country.

    I think you’re misreading what I write. I wrote that he’s free to invest where he likes.

    I’ve worked with many companies that have an “idea” that can’t get funding. I’ve even worked with two that couldn’t get seed funding in the first 5 years but were then speculated on heavily by Berkshire.

    I’ve worked with many wealthy people who invest at least 50% of the profits of a previous enterprise into the new idea. They keep modest (by US standards) amounts for themselves as the risk taker, but plow everything else into expanding the new or existing value-add/employing enterprise.

    I don’t see that lately in Mr Buffet at a time when the USA (particular) needs that investment.

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