The Governator Welcomes China's BYD To California
Thank you, God, or make that Uzume, for keeping me alive long enough so that I can announce this: The Governator himself, that Austrian incarnate of Red, White, Blue, Mom & Apple Pie, has received a starring role in China’s Xinhua newswire:
“California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Friday that Chinese manufacturer BYD Auto Company Limited (BYD) will locate its North American headquarters in Los Angeles.”
Chinese Revolution: BYD Bumps FAW
As my revered colleagues at China Car Times rightly remark, “March is the first full month of car sales after the Chinese New Year where the majority of dealerships are closed for around two weeks, thus stunting growth of that month, but March is always a very busy month with many customers flush with cash after the New Year.” That’s why everybody who knows the Chinese car industry has a sharp eye on the March numbers. And that’s why everybody gasped when total vehicle sales in China climbed 55.79 percent from March a year earlier. Something else happened. A revolution.
BYD Feels Gassy
Nearly everything ever written about BYD in the Western press has focused on the Chinese automaker’s hybrid or electric drivetrains, or the firms and investors who have bought into their future promise. It’s an understandable state of affairs: after all, the firm started life as a cell phone battery maker, providing OEM cells for firms like Nokia. Meanwhile, BYD sold nearly a half-million cars in China last year, all gas powered, doubling both sales and profit over 2008 levels. And with plans for a pure EV now on hold, BYD is going back to basics, readying a range of new, allegedly more upscale, gas-powered cars for the Beijing Auto Show later this month.
My, My, Maybach: Bad Yarn Debunked
Yesterday, Chinese site auto.sina.com had what our Ed Niedermeyer called “a belly-laugher of a wild-ass rumor: they say BYD has its eye on Daimler’s zombie luxury brand Maybach.” Funny as it may be, media all over the world jumped on the story. Now, the story is heading right to Snopes. After what must have been a round of heated phone calls between Stuttgart and Shenzhen, Daimler denounced the dumb-ass tale:
Wild Ass Rumor Of The Day: BYD After Maybach?
Chinese site auto.sina.com [via thetycho.com] has a belly-laugher of a wild-ass rumor: they say BYD has its eye on Daimler’s zombie luxury brand Maybach. The rumor is clearly based on the fact that BYD and Daimler recently closed a cooperation deal, in which they will jointly build vehicles in China for sale under a new brand name. But beyond that, there’s not much to go on. From what I can tell from the Google Translate version of the story, auto.sina.com seems to have an anonymous source in BYD that on March 23 divulged:
BYD is on the matter and approached Daimler, Daimler announced soon abandoned the brand, BYD Auto will soon be underway acquisition action.
Bemoan Your Delays: BYD E6 Commercial Launch Officially Delayed Until Whenever
A week ago, we ran a story about China’s BYD scaling back – way back – plans to mass produce their E6 pure plug-in. We reported that all they’ll make will be 100 E6 electric cars to be used as taxis in the city of Shenzhen, where BYD is based. Further development of the vehicles will depend on how that test fleet will be doing. At the time, it was only a rumor. Now, the rumor has been confirmed by the BYD man himself, Chairman Wang Chuanfu.
BYD Scraps Plans For Pure Plugin
Wonder how a formerly little known company called BYD can turn into a major player in the auto business and turn a record profit? Here is one of the reasons: BYD “has scrapped its highly publicized plan to mass-produce pure electric cars on the mainland by the middle of this year,” writes Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.
All they’ll make will be 100 E6 electric cars to be used as taxis in the city of Shenzhen, where BYD is based. Further development of the vehicles will depend on how that test fleet will be doing. Now that is one way to delay production.
BYD Charges Ahead
Chinese battery maker and aspiring automaker BYD earned $215m in the fourth quarter of 2009, bringing its net profit for last year to $555.2m, reports Automotive News [sub]. BYD’s performance outstripped analyst estimates, which projected fourth quarter profits of $130.5m, and full-year profits of $473.2m. Though the Chinese auto market grew 46 percent to 1.6m vehicles, 47 percent of BYD’s 2009 sales came from the firm’s cell phone battery business, which is expected to give back recent gains as the global economic crisis takes its toll. Not so with BYD’s auto business: the firm has raised its 2010 car sales projections 14 percent, with sales of 800k foreseen. And as China’s car market takes off, BYD, which has one of the nation’s best-selling cars in its F3 compact, is expected to keep growing. Says one JP Morgan analyst:
BYD is a company that can’t be underestimated. If the Chinese vehicle market expands 10 percent this year BYD’s sales will grow at least 40 percent — 50 or even 60 percent is also a possibility.
China Invades Europe, Again
Even since Landwind crash test, and the Brilliance crash test, the reputation of Chinese cars in Europe has been a little, shall we say, challenging. Watching the bonnet of a car crumble like Professor Gilbert’s theory on Toyota’s UA tofu does have its effect on prospective customers.
But none of this seems to worry BYD. Europe is their next target. Autocar reports that BYD, the maker of China’s biggest selling car, the F3, will be coming to Europe in 2011. Not with their bestselling F3, but with a pure electric E6. The car was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show.
Daimler And BYD Team Up For Chinese Market EV
BYD Blasted For Reverse Engineering, Labor Practices, Expansion
Typically, the only reports on China’s BYD involve booming Chinese sales, unproven future products, and Warren Buffett’s investment in the battery and auto manufacturing conglomerate. But these don’t tell the whole story of how BYD has emerged from relative obscurity to publicly announcing that it intends to challenge Toyota to become the world’s top automaker by 2018. Chinese outlet Caixin [via GreenCarReports] attempts to shed some light on BYD and what it takes to rise to the top of China’s massive manufacturing industry, in a piece titled “How Manufacturing’s Mockingbird Sings.” The piece details BYD’s reliance on reverse engineering, the practice of stripping down competitor automobiles and components and copying them, and its extreme (even by Chinese standards) dependence on cheap labor.
Honda Exec: Chinese and Indian Automakers Could "Blow Up The Distribution Chain"
The prospect of US launches by Chinese and Indian auto brands like Tata and BYD have at least one of the established US-market players in a paranoid froth. Honda VP John Mendel revealed a few of the nightmare scenarios that keep him up at night to USA Today [UPDATE: more on Mendel’s fears at Automotive News [sub]]. One, inspired by BYD’s plans for a 2010 US launch without a distribution channel in place, is that newcomers could skip the dealer model altogether. Mendel worries that “warehouse stores or electronics stores” ( sound familiar?) could be used to cut dealers out of the loop, “blowing up” business-as-usual for US distribution strategy.
BYD Wants To Be World's Biggest Car Maker
So they say, if you want to be a successful car manufacturer, you must have steel in your DNA, gasoline in your blood, a history reaching back generations, and an annual output of at least 5m to stay profitable. And even then it’s not a slam dunk, as we are painfully aware.
Wang Chuanfu proves them all wrong.
BYD Dreams Up 2010 EV Sales, US Production
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.