BYD Auto Nears Release Of EVs & HEVs For China, Eyes American & European Markets

April 22, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

BYD Auto Co., a unit of BYD Group based in Shenzhen, China, announced that it plans to mass-market (in approximately two years) an all-electric vehicle that could go 300 kilometers on a single full charge, with an eye toward eventually selling the same car in North America and Europe.

The company states that the BYD e6 electric car should hit the Chinese market around 2009 or 2010. The electric car will follow a launch later this year in China of a gasoline-electric hybrid electric car that can be plugged into a home electric outlet and is capable of going 100 kilometers all on electric when fully charged. BYD plans to market the plug-in hybrid, the F6DM (for "dual mode"), in the U.S. in three to five years.

In China, BYD plans to sell the plug-in hybrid for 150,000 yuan (US $21,460) and the electric car for 200,000 yuan.

BYD states that its e6 electric vehicle, in part because of its relatively high price and the need to be plugged in relatively frequently to charge the car’s sizable on-board batteries, will initially be more suitable for use as taxis and other feet vehicles. The e6 car needs nine hours to fully charge its lithium-ion batteries, although they could be charged to their 80% capacity in 15 minutes.

The company claims that the batteries on the e6 should easily last eight to 10 years. They can be charged 2,000 times, without losing their capacity, and even after 2,000 charges, the batteries should maintain 80% of their original capacity.

In terms of safety, the company claims that the kind of new breed of lithium ion battery technology it has developed – one that uses iron phosphate as one of the main electrode materials – would likely to keep its batteries from succumbing to such a catastrophic event as an explosion or fire due to overheating.