BYD Says It's On Track to Deliver Electric Car In Q2 2012
Last week, I met with Stella Li, senior vice president of BYD Co. I came away thinking BYD is saying the right things as far as setting up distribution, building its brand, and all that other stuff that selling cars involves. But BYD is relying on its battery technology to be a big selling tool. And I would still like to see some independent testing on its battery before I accept the automaker’s capacity claims.
Li says that BYD will start selling its battery-electric buses and sedans to fleets in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of this year. A BYD electric bus is currently on a demonstration tour of the U.S. to show off the technology, she said. Sales to consumers of the e6 crossover will start in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2012, she said. The BYD vehicles have passed all the necessary safety tests for the U.S. market, Li said, and the results would be out in the fourth quarter of this year.
BYD is talking to potential dealers right now, and would have an announcement by the fourth quarter. It is aiming for up to 20 dealers in the first year, she said. BYD dealerships will be showcases for all of its green technology, including the car, recharge station, solar panels, battery, and LED light bulbs. So BYD is searching for dealers who have “a great passion for green,” said Li.
Unlike some EV producers, who see their product as a whole new paradigm, BYD seems to see its EVs as cars, but ones with that run on a battery instead of gas. “We don’t want people to buy this as a toy,” said Li. “We want our EV to serve as a transport vehicle.”
Only those with experience selling cars are being considered as BYD dealers, said Li. BYD wants people who can provide superior car dealership customer service, Li explained. And apparently BYD figures that only those who are already selling cars truly understand how to provide that.
Li also talked about the difficulties of introducing a new brand to the U.S. market. She figures BYD’s status as an electric vehicle—in a new segment, that is—will help. Li especially touted BYD’s claimed battery capacity of 140 to 150 miles if running the air conditioning, driving up hill, etc. In the city, with lots of stop and start driving, the battery is good for 180 to 200 miles, she said. “Nobody can really compete with us,” Li said.
Maybe that’s true. I’d like to believe it. And BYD has announced many test results from its fleets in China. But that’s China. BYD still hasn’t given one of its cars or batteries to an independent third party testing organization here in the U.S. such as Argonne National Lab to prove those claims. I wish it would.
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