BYD Dreams Up 2010 EV Sales, US Production

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Buffett-backed Chinese EV firm BYD is back at the Detroit Auto Show after making its main-floor debut last year. Like most automakers, BYD has toned things down a bit this year, featuring the same vehicle it brought last year, the all-electric e6 crossover. Last year, BYD said the 250-mile, 14-sec 0-60 e6 would be coming to the US at an estimated $40k pricetag. This year, BYD’s Fred Ni is telling ABC that the e6 could be more reasonably priced, implying that it would be sold at a price point comparable to similar gas-powered vehicles.

Because BYD has had so much success in China with its gas-powered cars (its F3 is China’s top-seller), it’s focusing on establishing an EV beachhead in mature markets like the US. That means low volumes at first and a California-only rollout, as the company seeks to build brand awareness. Once the firm gets a toehold though, watch out. “There might not be a profit initially, but we’ll have to sell it [the e6] at a reasonable price,” Li explains to Kicking Tires. “Once we see reasonable demand we want to move major production facilities to the U.S.”

BYD’s big news in Detroit appears to center around their claim that the e6 will roll out in California this year. “The U.S. is a very important market for BYD in the future, and the electric vehicle is our future,” Chairman Wang Chuanfu tells BusinessWeek. “We will start toward the market in the second half.” Of course, last year BYD said they would have the e6 on sale in China by the end of 2009, and apparently that has yet to happen. Meanwhile, BYD’s Dual Mode hybrids aren’t exactly selling like hot cakes either (likely to their high cost relative to the rest of the Chinese market).

Nothing about the EV market is certain right now, but BYD is clearly playing the game with considerable patience. Of course the e6 still has to pass US certification, crash testing, and the gauntlet of journalists waiting to shoot down a $40k Chinese EV. On the other hand, if it does pass these hurdles, it could keep the Volt from looking cutting edge and break down some of the fear factor surrounding Chinese cars. BYD is in for an interesting 12 months or so.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Threeer Threeer on Jan 12, 2010

    I think I'd rather own a Cobalt than a Chinese-made car...and I'd suspect that I'm not alone in that thinking...

  • D002 D002 on Jan 12, 2010

    "Last year, BYD said the 250-mile, 14-sec 0-60 e6 would be coming to the US at an estimated $40k pricetag." Oh yeah, sounds like vapourware ? Perhaps BYD is has some people who used to work for Commodore electronics ? Since BYD has yet to make a car that even complies with US homologation standards....

  • Jeff Self driving cars are not ready for prime time.
  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.