E6: BYD builds electric vehicles for the global market

A BYD official said the e6 accelerated the auto maker’s new-energy vehicle strategy and will help domestic car makers compete against international rivals.

China-based BYD, backed by billionaire Warren Buffet, will launch the plug-in e6 sedan in China in the first half of this year for about 300,000 yuan (43,988 U.S. dollars), mainly supplying government, public services and taxi fleets. BYD also plans to sell the electric car e6 in the United States at the end of this year with a price tag of about 40,000 dollars.

With government support, hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming an industry trend as consumers seek ways to reduce emissions to protect the environment. Demand for such vehicles has prompted car makers to increase investment and speed up engineering in the field.

General Motors plans to launch its extended-range electric car Volt in the US this year before introducing it to China in 2011. Nissan plans to launch its Leaf plug-in electric car in 2012.

BYD said the e6 is a sedan powered by a lithium iron phosphate battery.

The car promises a battery-only range of 330 kilometers on a single charge. The battery can be quick-charged to 50 percent of capacity in 10 minutes, and fully charged in 60 minutes.

BYD (Biyadi in Chinese but known as Build Your Dreams in English) started out as a rechargeable battery firm, eventually becoming China’s leading manufacturer and one of the world’s top four. After acquiring Tsinchuan Automobile, BYD launched eight different cars, now sold across China and exported to Africa, South America and the Middle East. The E6 could prove to be their defining moment, however.

Aside from intensifying competition, car makers also face challenges convincing consumers about the benefits of new-energy vehicles as some people worry about inconvenience due to the lack of charging stations.

Auto makers also face issues over heavy batteries, which reduce the efficiency of electric cars, and recycling batteries.

Wang Chuanfu, chairman of BYD, said recently that the car maker is aiming to become the world’s largest auto maker by 2025. Last year, BYD saw sales jump 130 percent to 400,000 vehicles. It set a sales target of 800,000 units this year.

At the ongoing Detroit auto show, BYD was the only Chinese car maker to attend. Its lineup also included the F3DM, the world’s first dual-mode plug-in hybrid.

Besides BYD’s e6, the new-energy vehicles the government approved included Dongfeng’s Fengshen S30 and Changan’s Zhixiang.

Source: Shanghai Daily