Chinese BYD brings electric vehicles to Detroit

BYD is the only car-maker from China at the Detroit Auto Show. Although the Detroit Auto Show is one of the world’s top five in size, an economic slowdown means fewer car makers have turned up. It’s the third year that BYD is attending the show. The emphasis this time is electric vehicles, and the Chinese company hopes to launch its own line of clean energy vehicles on the American market.

BYD has presented an all-electric crossover vehicle at the Auto Show that it plans to sell in North America by the end of the year. Dubbed the e6, BYD says it comes at "very affordable" prices.

"As a major developer and manufacturer of electric vehicles, BYD is devoted to creating safe, efficient and affordable electric vehicles," said Henry Li, general manager of BYD Auto Trade Export.

The full-sized, four-door electric vehicle offers a maximum range of 205 miles, a maximum speed of 87 miles per hour, an acceleration from zero to 60 of less than 14 seconds and operates at a third of the cost of a comparable gasoline vehicle, Li said.

It would be powered with a home charging station and BYD also hopes to establish a network of charging poles at offices, stores and standalone stations. It is powered by BYD’s Fe lithium iron phosphate battery, one of the company’s core technologies. The five-passenger e6 is expected to sell for less than US$50,000 in the U.S.

The BYD F3DM is the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid compact sedan. It is also powered by BYD’s Fe battery. It can run 62 miles per battery charge.

BYD is China’s fourth largest automaker and sold 450,000 vehicles there in 2009, a 180 percent increase from a year earlier. At the Detroit Auto Show, BYD stepped onto center stage with plenty of interesting product, including the world’s first dual-mode plug-in hybrid. BYD’s F3DM and e6 which debuted at last NAIAS in Detroit, were brought to this year’s Detroit auto show again.

The Chinese electric cars have attracted thousands of visitors and reporters at the auto show. BYD Chairman and President Wang Chuanfu told Xinhua that both vehicles could hit the American and other foreign markets by 2011.

Analysts here said the abundance of hybrid, electric and other environmentally friendly vehicles shows the auto industry believes it must meet stringent fuel economy goals through technology.