BYD, Made in Egypt

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Supposed battery and electric car maker BYD is giving Chinese car makers reasons to be worried. While BYD’s electric cars get all the headlines, BYD’s conventionally powered and aggressively priced F3 car has been a Chinese chart topper for many months. The F3 is one of the best-selling sedans in the Chinese market. As many months before, BYD’s F3 did lead China’s November sedan sales. Now, BYD is making this car abroad.

According to Gasgoo, BYD Auto has rolled out its first locally produced car in Egypt. After cooperating with a local automaker for four years, BYD has started selling the popular BYD F3 made in Egypt, with a retail price equivalent to US$11,000.

BYD has set up a CKD (completely knocked-down) assembly plant in the African country. More reason to get worried: While other Chinese companies are ditching overseas plans and plants, BYD plans to set up 40 overseas plants by 2025.

I sat in a F3 two days ago. Admittedly, it was dark. Admittedly, I had a driver. But the car was roomy, had a big trunk and the looks and size of a VW Passat. The driver said it sells for less that $10000 in China. No wonder it’s a runaway hit.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Rod Panhard Rod Panhard on Dec 15, 2009

    It takes a helluva a lot more money, effort and expertise to produce a car for First World and Second World than it does the Third World. And what's more, the payoff for building a First World car may not be their any more. Building TKDs for Egypt is very smart, but it's a completely different business model than building a car for the U.S.

    • Pig_Iron Pig_Iron on Dec 15, 2009

      You are right. There are people sweating details on vehicles - the kind of details most folks would never dream of. That's a lot of time and money in Europe, NA, etc. My jury is still out on if China can pull reliability and quality off. Occasionally China seems to make good, solid stuff, but most of it looks to have a limited life and inconsistant materials and assembly. Their market is very internal, and I don't see them pushing out what the outside world demands until their own market is saturated and mature. 2020?

  • Mr Carpenter Mr Carpenter on Dec 15, 2009

    I'm starting to come to a rather ominous conclusion about the Chinese that nobody seems to be thinking about and talking about - yet. We're focused on their making inroads in Western 1st world markets all the while they are kicking booty in 2nd and 3rd world markets, but really taking names and kicking @ss in China, their home turf - after having invited Western and Japanese and South Korean manufacturers in as "partners" to learn/steal from them. My thinking is this; perhaps the Chinese are concluding that there isn't much point in selling cars to a nation or group of nations which are going to be economically despondent, but will instead simply declare the "partnerships" with Western automakers "over" and retain all the profits for global auto sales themselves. Worldwide, but mostly pertaining to China itself. Combined with a double dip depression or recession for the West, we'll be in the inenviable position of being left in the dust economically for decades if not permanently. Because it's not just about cars, you know. But cars are the canary in the mine, if you catch my drift. (I'm speaking about Detroit Inc being a canary in the mine for Washington). Sorry for the multiple posts. Have no idea what happened.

  • Paul Niedermeyer Paul Niedermeyer on Dec 15, 2009

    For what it's worth, I prefer the prior gen Corolla over the current one.

  • Wsn Wsn on Dec 15, 2009

    Since Corolla is the very definition of generic design, should we fault any car that looks like a Corolla?