By on October 24, 2011

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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7 Comments on “BYD Lands In LA, Mojo Lost En Route...”

  • avatar

    Yay for economic forces!

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Oddly enough, this makes sense to me. Let me explain.

    Sure, building cars is part of “Build Your Dreams.” But so is everything else, right? How many people really “dream” about driving an electric car? Well, I’ll give you a hint. Where I live, in a liberal part of New Jersey, there’s a LOT of them. A LOT of people here get very excited about the idea of driving an electric car. It’s for the simple reason they don’t drive anywhere else. I even know of a guy whose dad bought a Volt and they broke the bank in putting solar panels on the garage and house to charge the damn thing. They spent more in charging capacity than the car and they had to figure out how to do this themselves.

    But there’s one problem. Actually two.

    It’s cloudy here. A lot. In Winter. When it’s cold.

    So not only can you NOT charge your battery, when you do, it’s not taking advantage of an optimal temperature.

    Now, let’s take California for second. We know there are a lot of eco-minded break the bank types here in New Jersey. Our population is 8.3 million. So if there’s only 2 percent of the population who would break-the-bank and install solar panels for their electric cars that they paid too much for, that’s really not that many people.

    But California? Where there’s 45 million people and it’s sunny and mostly warm? And you, Joe Carbonsux want to do this like it’s some sort of Heath kit?

    I dunno. It makes sense to me … a one-stop shop for all your eco-weenie carbonsux needs. And yeah, there are a lot of people who believe they need that.

  • avatar

    Yeah, that happens when you build cheap, low quality knock offs on your gas models, and then your electrics don’t deliver the range or performance that was promised. Even in China where they have low expectations, even among Chinese domestics; a Cherry QQ is considered a far smarter choice than any BYD because it is safer, more reliable, and higher quality. That’s how low BYD has gotten.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      Windtronics rooftop shrouded turbine, sold in the US under the Honeywell brand, makes a lot more sense. Fewer moving parts, less mechanical resistance and it can work in fairly low winds. The magnets are in the blade tips and the inductor coils are in the shroud. No big fan blades, it’s only about 5′ in diameter, no shafts, no transmissions or gears. A very elegant invention. I don’t know if it will pay for itself at ~$5K, but I think it’s pretty cool. The graphic below compares the design to a conventional wind generator.

    • 0 avatar

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

  • avatar

    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

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