BYD: China’s Sleeping Giant
BYD (Build Your Dreams) Auto is a Chinese automaker that was founded in 2003 as a branch of BYD Limited, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries. With this established background in lithium-ion technology, BYD is ambitiously planning on releasing some of the most viable, reasonably priced electric vehicles ever. Their first production electric car will be the plug-in hybrid, F3DM.
The F3DM (Dual Mode) hybrid is a mid-sized, Toyota Carolla like, sedan with a range of 62 miles (100 km) in the all-electric mode and 267 miles (430 km) total. The vehicle is supposedly going to be for sale in China as early as next month, November 2008, and available to the European market in 2010. It was rumored the car could be priced as low as $15,000, but more recent reports state it will be closer to $25,000. This is still a great price for what could be the the first ever, mass produced plug-in hybrid. (Wikipedia, BYD F3DM)
Their larger hybrid is the F6DM, which is a Toyota Camry clone stylistically, and has nearly identical performance specs as the F3DM . BYD is obviously playing it safe by using proven and popular body styles that will make these cars indiscernible from regular, internal combustion vehicles.
BYD has been making so much news lately, it is hard to tell what is fabricated and what is backed by solid evidence. This is mostly due to the enigmatic nature of Chinese corporations. The strongest argument for BYD’s legitimacy could be from the fact that Warren Buffet, legendary investor, and his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, made a bold investment of $230 million in BYD auto last month. Portland, Oregon is also showing interest in hosting a BYD headquarters in America. The commissioner is showing a keen interest in BYD’s upcoming all-electric model, the F3E, which could have a range of 186 miles, a top speed of 100 mph, and a battery life of over 370,000 miles. The F3E will look identical to the F3DM. BYD also plans to sell some electric models to Israel, which is currently installing a countrywide electric vehicle recharging grid as part of Project Better Place.
This is all exciting news for the electric auto industry. China is making a statement that it wants to be a leader in green technology. Hopefully, they keep up their incredible pace, so that the rest of the world will have to follow.