2010 Detroit Auto Show
Hardly modest about its astronomical growth rate or its plans for the future, China’s BYD hopes to top of its phenomenal growth in its home China with an expansion into the U.S.—bringing its e6 electric crossover into the U.S. and Canada as soon as late this year, setting plans in motion for local R&D and battery assembly facilities.
BYD global business general manager Fred Ni said that as the U.S. auto industry is “heavily injured,” the Chinese market is surging—and BYD especially has had phenomenal growth in the past year. As evidence: BYD sold 450,000 cars in China in 2009 and is hoping to sell 800,000 vehicles (160 percent growth) in 2010. The company’s goal is to be the number-one automaker in China in 2015 and the number one automaker in the world by 2025.
The e6, BYD’s first EV, has already gone on sale in China. The tall wagon or crossover is capable of seating five, and it can reach a top speed of 87 mph and has a 205-mile driving range—thanks to the company’s proprietary ferrous battery pack, mounted under the seats. Overall, operating costs for the e6 will be about a third those of combustion-engine vehicles.
BYD already employs 150,000 in China and has ten major production facilities. Vertical integration of the supply and manufacturing process is crucial to the company’s business plan—it aims to own and manage every step along the supply chain.
The company is already one of the top suppliers of batteries, optical components, LCD displays, and mobile phones.
2010 Detroit Auto Show
BYD doesn’t have any grand expectations at first for the U.S. General manager for exports Henry Li expects e6 sales of at least a few hundred to start before it will roll out its distibution channels in the U.S., and it’s willing to gamble a little bit at first. “There might not be a profit initially, but we’ll have to sell it [the e6] at a reasonable price,” said Li.
“Once we see reasonable demand we want to move major production facilities to the U.S.,” said Henry Li, which he explained includes research and development, along with battery assembly.
Currently BYD only sells its vehicles in a few countries outside China—including Russia, Poland, and Bulgaria—though it appears that it’s yet another company expecting to take advantage of the rapidly changing market to establish a foothold in North America.