BYD plans to start electric vehicles sales next year

BYD Co, the automaker backed by Warren Buffett, plans to start selling hybrid and electric cars in western Europe next year as the first Chinese company to market electric vehicles in the region.

The E6 electric car is among the models BYD plans to introduce, Paul Lin, a company spokesman, said Monday. The Shenzhen, southern China-based carmaker may eventually design and build electric cars in Europe, he said.

BYD has teamed up with Daimler AG to develop electric vehicles in China and plans to begin selling electric cars in Europe and the US as consumers seek to curb spending on gasoline and reduce emissions. Nissan Motor Co and PSA Peugeot Citroën will also start selling electric vehicles in Europe this year, intensifying competition.

"BYD is taking the right strategy by expanding into European and US markets, given that consumers in developed markets have higher acceptance for electric and hybrid cars," said Han Weiqi, an analyst with CSC Securities Hong Kong Ltd in Shanghai. "But the competitiveness of their E6 and other hybrid models is yet to be tested."

BYD sold 48 of its F3DM hybrid vehicles last year to corporate and government customers in China and hasn’t yet started selling the E6 model in its home market.

The automaker may start US sales this year, Chairman Wang Chuanfu said in January. The first E6 hatchbacks will arrive in the US late in the year, according to Henry Li, general manager of BYD’s auto export division. BYD said the five-passenger car can travel 200 miles (322 kilometers) on a charge.

BYD, the fastest-growing Chinese automaker last year, rose 1.9 percent to HK$65 as of 3:24 pm in Hong Kong trading on Monday. The shares have declined 5 percent this year.

BYD is the one of the world’s largest  lithium ion batteries manufacturers. BYD and Daimler said on March 2 they will cooperate on developing an electric vehicle for the Chinese market. That model may be sold overseas in the future, Lin said on Monday.

Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler, the world’s second-largest maker of luxury cars, and BYD may invest more than 100 million euros ($137 million) in the venture, Daimler’s Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said last week.