BYD Lands In LA, Mojo Lost En Route

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

If you’ve followed TTAC for the last several, you’ve been able to watch the meteoric rise of Build Your Dreams from humble upstart to Buffett-backed behemoth. Two years ago, BYD seemed poised to launch an unstoppable onslaught of cheap Chinese electric cars that seemed like an attractive proposition at a time when gas price angst was everywhere. Today, however, things have changed considerably. Bloomberg reports that BYD has opened its US headquarters in Los Angeles, a year behind schedule, and with fewer jobs than initially promised. And no wonder: for all intents and purposes, BYD has practically abandoned its charge to leverage its cell phone battery know-how into electric car dominance. According to Bloomberg, BYD

“has delayed plans to sell electric cars to retail buyers, citing limited availability of public chargers. Instead, it’s focusing on solar panels, batteries, LED lighting and rechargeable buses.”

But ask an old China car industry hand (say, I don’t know, TTAC Managing Editor Bertel Schmitt) about BYD’s automotive ambitions, and he’ll likely roll his eyes. “BYD was like a dirty word” says Bertel, when asked about the Shenzhen-based firm’s presence at the recent Chengdu Chinese Auto Industry Confab. And even within BYD, all you hear are the sounds of silence: MarketWatch reports the firm is in the grips of a “White Terror.” Through the first half of 2011, BYD’s sales were down 23 percent (in a growing market), net profit is reported to be down 88 percent.

So, what’s next?

“BYD will announce its first two California dealerships soon. They will offer the full range of BYD products, including electric vehicles, solar panels, LED-lighting systems, vehicle-charging equipment and energy-storage systems — large-scale batteries powered by solar panels.

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  • Dolorean Dolorean on Oct 25, 2011

    There's always the option of roof mounted air turbines. Did some research on these for my Master's degree last year. The smallest, and less intrusive if your neighborhood has a covenant, would easily provide about 30 kWh a month at windspeeds averaging 13 mph. Its also not that expensive nor intensive to install and wouldn't care if its day or night long as there's a breeze. Coupled with a small, flexible solar panel on the roof, you'd easily be able to charge the Volt up plus maybe heat the water in the water heater.

    • See 1 previous
    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Oct 26, 2011

      $750 just for the turbine, to produce $3 a month in electricity? Am I missing something here?

  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Oct 25, 2011

    i looked at BYD's portfolio besides some uninteresting hybrids they seem to specialise in building copies of Toyotas... that don't crash well they won't succeed in the west with that

  • Art_Vandelay “Fain also invited President Joe Biden to join the striking workers on the picket line”Yes. Please go on strike Joe. One of this Cosmo Kramer Bagel making strikes that lasts for a decade or so
  • SCE to AUX No sitting President should visit a picket line.
  • Scott So a sled manufacturer makes a sled on wheels. Where is the surprise?
  • Add Lightness I had one of these for a company truck. It was also 2WD thankfully as part-by-part the truck got everything replaced over the course of a year. If it was 4WD, that would have just hurt the company more fixing the extra drivetrain.
  • KOKing I like 2dr SUVs (I'm glad the new Bronco is available w 2 doors; it's MUCH better looking, and I'm finally seeing more of them on the road), but I've seen the Mexico-only 90s Ramcharger a couple of times and it has that same too-big rear window look that these old ones had.