By on September 17, 2009

Brand new, like a fetus

“It’s our company’s long-term target, to be China’s No. 1 automaker by 2015 and to be the world’s leading car maker by 2025,” Build Your Dream’s marketing reps tell the AP. Ready for a reality check? BYD sold only 400k units last year, almost all of them in China. In fact, just a few years ago BYD wasn’t an automaker at all, but a battery supplier to laptop and cell phone companies. Several years and a big investment from Warren Buffet later, BYD is getting all kinds of cocky.

Analysts claim that BYD’s goal of beating Toyota by 2025 is “realistic” because China and other Asian markets show more promise for growth than the relatively mature US and European markets. Still, BYD’s a long way from even dominating the Chinese market. GM sold 814,442 units in the first half of 2009, followed by Volkswagen which moved 652,436 vehicles. BYD  sold only 246,881 in the first three quarters of this year.

Breaking into the US and Europe seems to be an even tougher nut to crack. Chinese vehicles face the mother of all “perception gaps,” thanks to China’s reputation as a source of cheap, low-quality goods. Although BYD’s battery and hybrid drivetrain technology appear to be world class (after all, BYD’s F3DM is the world’s first plug-in hybrid), it takes more than a slick drivetrain to satisfy picky consumers in mature car markets. Oh yeah, and the BYD system has yet to be independently tested by western auto journalists.

BYD’s recent announcement of a forthcoming EV MPV illustrates a number of the challenges facing the firm as it builds towards its goal of 10m global sales by 2025. That vehicle will probably cost $40K by the time it arrives, suggesting that potential quality issues could become problems of brand-aborting stature. As one analyst puts it, the first wave of BYDs are “all about advertising and brand building.”

The implication is that initial volume and pricing don’t matter. BYD needs to “just let the world know you are the world leaders and then see what happens,” according to the same analyst. But that’s not a strategy, it’s pure hubris. Just ask GM how that strategy has worked out.

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27 Comments on “BYD Likes the Car Thing, Wants to Unseat Toyota...”


  • avatar
    Seth L

    Breaking into the US and Europe seems to be an even tougher nut to crack. Chinese vehicles face the mother of all “perception gaps,”

    And a reputation for being deathtraps. The Zap Zebra may be enough to keep perception in the crapper for a while.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    If you were writing this a few years ago, would it have been “cocky” of BYD to predict that they would sell 400K cars in 2009, starting from zero then? Yes they are being cocky and yes the chances are great that they won’t achieve their “dream” (BYD means build your dream), but at least they still have ambitious dreams and goals and are trying their best to achieve them. American corporations have forgotten how to dream – it’s against OSHA regulations or something anyway.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “It’s our company’s long-term target, to be China’s No. 1 automaker by 2015 and to be the world’s leading car maker by 2025,” Build Your Dream’s marketing reps tell the AP.

    Yeah, and I want to be better looking than George Clooney by next year.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    Yeah, that logo isn’t a ripoff at all. Don’t these guys have any dignity?

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Wow…can’t wait to see BYD in the United States, and a car with one of those badges. I’m just certain my family, friends, neighbors and business colleagues will never look that closely – and they’ll have absolutely no idea that I’m not driving the genuine “high-end” version with a similar logo.

    Now excuse me while I step away and polish the tarnish off of my fake Rolex…

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    … and the fight for energy in 2025 will make Mad Max look like a tea (bag) party.

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    You’ll be happy to know that BYD have changed their logo. No longer does it ape BMWs roundel.

    They’ve instead chosen to rip-off Kia’s trade mark.

    BYD:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/51/Optimized_image_a2ba9bb6.png

    Kia:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/2d/KIA_Motors.svg/200px-KIA_Motors.svg.png

  • avatar
    Demetri

    Wow, what’s with the typeface on that new logo? Are they an 80’s computer software developer? Maybe that’s why their cars suck so much. Everything they have is horribly dated.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    PeteMoran :
    September 17th, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    … and the fight for energy in 2025 will make Mad Max look like a tea (bag) party.

    Two men enter…one man leaves…
    Two men enter…one man leaves…
    Two men enter…one man leaves…

  • avatar
    mdensch

    And how will BYD attempt to beat Toyota? By building Toyotas.

    Look at the F0 that BYD was showing at the shows last winter. Now google the Toyota Aygo (a product developed jointly with Citroen and Peugeot) and look at the photos. It’s the same car. Go ahead, Toyota, file your law suits. Lots of luck with that.

    This is how BYD will build their brand, by building knock-offs of successful brands. As long as the Chinese government protects its industries by not honoring and enforcing international patent, trade mark and copyright laws, there is no such thing as a level playing field.

    At this juncture, a little isolationism and economic protectionism sounds pretty good.

  • avatar
    Dick

    BYD cracks me up. Hell, they have a real-live captive audience.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Jack Denver +1

    I think you are right, they may not, probably won’t, do it. But they are trying and have already acheived something impressive.

    And it does seem as though the US has forgotten that our success is not a birthright but the result of dreams that led to innovation and creation, visions that spawned great efforts. Many failed, but the ones that succeeded are the shoulders we stand on.
    The Bible puts it well, “Without a vision the people perish”.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    When you first speed-see BYD’s ridiculous logo, you may err to think it is a BMW logo. WIth the exception of the YD in BYD and the absent propeller, everything else is 100% BMW logo.

    I bet their lawyers tried to protect them from lawsuits by making the minimum changes needed so BMW can’t sue their a** off.

    But it really looks pathetic. Have these clowns not one original idea for a logo? If they do not, why don’t they pick something from CHina’s great tradition? All they have to do is walk outside their little offices and go to a museum or two.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    Nicodemus :
    September 17th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    You’ll be happy to know that BYD have changed their logo. No longer does it ape BMWs roundel.

    They’ve instead chosen to rip-off Kia’s trade mark.

    Saw it. It’s probably more lawsuit-proof.

    And also their products are much more down to Kia’s level or below.

  • avatar
    wsn

    I see much of the criticism based on prejudice and imagination. The BYD logo isn’t much more of a ripoff than Porsche ripping off Ferrari’s prancing horse. Or even Italian national flag ripping off France’s.

    It may have a similar color combination, but neither BMW buyers nor BYD buyers would mistake one for the other. So, there shouldn’t be any problem with that. Copyright laws serve to prevent stolen sales and in this case not a single BMW sale would be lost due to that.

    More substantiated comments on the real quality of the car are welcome. Something like “my uncle’s 2009 BYD had been in shop 50% of the time in the first 6 month of ownership”, anyone?

    Maybe BS can do us a favor reviewing this car?

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “I see much of the criticism based on prejudice and imagination. The BYD logo isn’t much more of a ripoff than Porsche ripping off Ferrari’s prancing horse. Or even Italian national flag ripping off France’s.”

    You obviously do not have CLUE ONE, OR you know the truth (blatant copying in BYD case, and NONE in Porsche’s case), but for some reason of your own, you just can’t admit it.

    It is simply FALSE, 100% FALSE, to claim that the image of a Horse in Ferrari has ANYTHING in common with Porsche’s coat of arms logo.

    Unbelievable!!!

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    And an extra proof is in BYD’s quick abandonment of their BLATANT Copying of the BMG logo, and replacement with the slightly KIA-ish logo.

    They KNOW that the Judge and JUry in any fair court would go MEDIEVAL on their worthless behinds if BMW SUED.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Rising to the top in China will likely require the swallowing of many competitors, which often leads to the creation of many divisions. In other words, becoming the new GM.

    Good luck catching Toyota that way. Hyundai is in a better position to out-Toyota Toyota.

    The other challenge for Chinese automakers is the political landscape. Communist dictatorships are not known for their long-term stability or business acumen.

  • avatar

    American corporations have forgotten how to dream – it’s against OSHA regulations or something anyway.

    I don’t think it’s possible to minimize the corrosive effect that the nanny state has on entrepreneurial dreams. Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in the wake of the Chinese lead painted toys scandal. Because Mattel had no idea what 2nd and 3rd tier vendors were doing in China, the law mandated testing of paint and other finishes. Big companies like Mattel are allowed to do their own testing and self-report, while small businesses, even though they are certain about their supply chain, must go through the expense of third party testing. This is driving small toymakers out of business.

    The permanent government in Washington is culturally divorced from entrepreneurship. Small business is messy and hard to control, unlike large companies that eagerly embrace regulations that keep barriers to new competitors high.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Autosavant :
    September 18th, 2009 at 11:28 am

    You obviously do not have CLUE ONE, OR you know the truth (blatant copying in BYD case, and NONE in Porsche’s case), but for some reason of your own, you just can’t admit it.

    It is simply FALSE, 100% FALSE, to claim that the image of a Horse in Ferrari has ANYTHING in common with Porsche’s coat of arms logo.
    ———————————————

    Well, perhaps you never been close to a Porsche or Ferrari. Or you are visually impaired.

    Ferrari Logo:
    http://www.ultimateitaly.com/images/cars-bikes/ferrari-logo.jpg

    Porsche Logo:
    http://www.officialpsds.com/images/thumbs/Porsche-Logo-psd17259.png

    Let me count the similarities between the two:
    1) Both use a horse
    2) Both horses are prancing (yes, it counts, as a Mustang logo is clearly different)
    3) Both horses are black
    4) Both horses are facing left
    5) Both use a yellow/gold coat of arm
    6) Last but not least, the two brands have some overlap in market sector

    And you tell me they are not “anything”? Looks like Porsche logo designers started with a Ferrari logo and added just enough black mascaras to avoid a law suit.

  • avatar
    B10er

    wsn…

    I rarely get this angry on such forums, but as has been stated, you are either being willfully ignorant, or you simply are a remarkably dull human being.

    I know today everything is corporate and decided upon by committees and focus groups. But, at one time, there was this little thing called heritage.

    The Porsche and Ferrari logos came about not though corporate focus groups or cheap knock-offs like the BYD logo above, but for actual reasons that meant something – heraldic coat-of-arms in the case of Porsche, and Ferrari with a conection to its very early racing days and a Great War aristocratic fighter pilot’s favoured symbol.

    BMWs original roundel was a stylized spinning propeller. Why, because they made aero-engines! Crazy that. Why blue and white – colours of Bavaria! Wow…meaning instead of random corporate creations!

    wsn…Please explain the signigicance of the BYD logo – both design and chosen colours? Is there anything established in the world of automobiles that looks similar? Hmmmmm…

  • avatar
    wsn

    B10er, I am just against double standards. No matter how you spin it, the Porsche logo and the Ferrari logo are just too visually close.

    Are you saying it’s not a ripoff, if a single person did it, instead of a focus group did it?

    Are you saying it’s not a ripoff, if it’s part of “heritage”? Maybe that very heritage itself was a ripoff.

    Speaking of “ripoff” heritage, look at the European national flags. Such as France vs. Netherlands, or Belgium vs. Germany. I can only say their designers were even lazier than the focus group at BYD. No, it doesn’t make it less of a ripoff even if your ancestors did it 300 years ago.

    Before I explain the meaning of the BYD logo. Please do me a favor and explain the meaning of the German flag and the meaning of the Belgium flag and the exact difference between the two other than one is vertical and one is horizontal.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    What do national flags have to do with anything? They weren’t trying to confuse people or sell anything when they designed their flag. As for the Ferrari vs Porsche thing, it isn’t similar enough in style, and the horse is only one small part of the Porsche logo. The Mustang logo has a horse in it also, that doesn’t mean that it’s a ripoff. The BYD is exactly the same, except for two letters and a minor color adjustment on the “propeller” portion. From a distance you would not be able to tell the difference, and people who aren’t as familiar with car logos will be confused.

    I actually don’t think that BYD should be sued. I do think that they should be mercilessly ridiculed for what they are, a bunch of hucksters who make junk and rip off other people’s stuff.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    As I read down through the comments I was mentally composing a post. Then I got to the bottom and found that Demetri already posted it for me. Thanks!

  • avatar
    jibd73

    The porsche horse is the symbol of Stuttgart, Porsches hometown. This dates back way before Ferrari was around!

    http://www.ngw.nl/int/dld/s/stuttgar.htm

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “wsn :
    September 18th, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    B10er, I am just against double standards. No matter how you spin it, the Porsche logo and the Ferrari logo are just too visually close.”

    What in the world are you talking about????

    In my very long life as an auto enthusiast, and having seen 1,000 Porsches and 1,000 Ferraris, I NEVER, EVER, Not even ONCE, not even REMOTELY, confused the one with the other, regardless of how many similarities you were able to find in the two logos

    (this reminded me of these kid’s games where they are shown two identical pics and are told to find the six differences. In this case, you got two totally different logos and found… the 6 similarities! Good Job!)

    HOWEVER, I WAS indeed DUPED when I, as I said, “Speed-read” (or “SPeed-saw” the BMW’ish BYD logo, the similarities were way too obvious.

    Again, BYD itself proves my point, since they hastily changed the logo, afraid of BMW retaliation and lawuits where BYD would lose BIG TIME..

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Autosavant +1

    Let me put it this way: I’ve had both Porsches and BMWs in my household at one time, so I’d like to think I’m somewhat familiar with the appearance of both. At a quick glance, I’ve never have been “duped” into mistaking the Ferrari logo for that of Porsche. Can’t say the same for BYD/BMW.

    Your mileage may vary, but I don’t think my cognitive abilities are all that unique. Besides, you hear immediate – and loud – outrage, even from non-enthusiasts, over the BYD/BMW similarities…care to explain why you never seem to hear the same over the “similarities” between the logos of Porsche and Ferrari?

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