First Drive: BYD F3DM Chinese Plug-in Hybrid Is the Real Deal

By · February 18, 2011

BYD F3DM

The BYD F3DM in Los Angeles's Chinatown. (Photos: Brad Berman. All rights reserved.)

Update: The stories are now live on NYTimes.com. The main piece focuses on driving impressions and there's a sidebar for a technical rundown. The Times also posted a web-only article about the prospects of Chinese car companies coming to America.

Last week, I had the unique opportunity to drive the BYD F3DM, on assignment for the New York Times. I believe that it’s the very first on-the-road review of what could be the first Made-in-China car in the U.S.A.—and it’s a plug-in hybrid.

The review and related technical sidebar will run on Sunday in the paper’s auto section. I don’t want to out-scoop myself, so you’ll need to wait until the paper lands on your driveway or NYT posts the story online to get the full story. But in the meantime, I’ll share a few observations, and some photos from the day. (More pics will follow soon.)

Our good friend ex-EV1-driver—familiar to PluginCars.com readers—came along for the ride, so hopefully he’ll offer his views on the F3DM. Fortunately, in the past few weeks, I’ve also had the chance to drive both the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, so the comparisons are clear in my mind.

BYD F3DM

Ex-EV1-driver and I had a chance to speak with BYD F3DM engineers, recently arrived from China, at the Cars 911 used car dealership in Glendale, Calif., where BYD has temporarily set up its business operations. The dealership will sell BYD electric cars starting next year.

Quality: The biggest concern before seeing the car was potentially shoddy build quality and materials. That was not the case. Don’t think Yugo. Think Hyundai 1.0. The styling and feel was not terribly exciting. The car reminded me of an Y2K-era Toyota Corolla. But it felt solid and quite adequate for normal driving. I would have no problem using the F3DM as my daily commuter car.

Electricness: Thanks to driver-controlled buttons for “EV” and “HEV” mode, we were able to choose whether or not to engage the engine or stay in pure EV mode. No matter how hard you push the F3DM, if you want to stay in EV mode, it will—as long as there’s sufficient charge in the battery. We managed 31 miles of uninterrupted electric driving. Unfortunately, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid doesn’t have an “EV” button—so the engine comes on with a quick burst of acceleration. Therefore, the F3DM beats the Plug-in Prius in that respect. It was also great to see how often the F3DM stayed all-electric even when the “HEV” button was lit.

BYD F3DM

The BYD F3DM fit and finish is not Lexus-quality, but it's fine for everyday purposes.

Affordability: In terms of many factors, including EV range; MPG after battery depletion (we measured 33 mpg for the day); size of battery pack; and combined gas and electric range, the F3DM matches the specs of the Chevy Volt. Yet, it’s entirely stripped down and basic. As a result, the F3DM is expected to cost $28,800 (before incentives) compared to $41,000 for the Volt. In the NYT story, I call the F3DM a Chevy Volt with a Wal-Mart price tag. Of course, the Volt is a vastly superior automobile—but will a Chinese company really be the first one to offer an affordable fully capable plug-in hybrid? Or will another company see the wisdom of dressing down an EV so that it can provide gas-free mobility at the most reasonable cost?

Biggest Gripe: When the F3DM’s 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine comes on (to charge the battery from 20-percent to 30-percent), it’s very loud. The transition from electric to gas is anything but smooth and subtle. I know that BYD is aware of this problem, but until it demonstrates that it can dampen the noise and vibration, the F3DM has a major strike against it.

Biggest Obstacle: BYD is talking about opening five dealerships in Q1 2012. Yet, the company has only performed internal safety and emissions testing. BYD has not yet filed paperwork with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or environmental regulatory agencies. I believe that BYD is further along in the process of entering the U.S. market than any Chinese car company has come before. But it remains to be seen how long BYD will need to get all the necessary regulatory approvals—and how the process might delay product introduction.

BYD F3DM

If BYD can get past these hurdles—and improve its grade on quality from a passing C to a B or B-plus—then the company could become a real player in the plug-in market. In fact, it could achieve what no other global automaker has previously been able to do: offering a common sense no-frills but very affordable electric car for everyday folks.

Check back for a link to a full narrative about the BYD F3DM in this weekend’s New York Times—and feel free to ask questions about the driving experience.

Comments

· · 3 years ago

So cool Brad! Wish I could've come along for the ride too, but, alas, living in the beautiful middle of nowhere is a double edged sword.

Digging the "Volt with a Wal-Mart Pricetag"... perhaps Wal-Mart can start selling it?

If I remember right, the F3DM will likely qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit (or instant rebate if it comes to pass). $21,300 is an amazing price for a car like this no matter the gripes. As long as it passes the crash tests, it's a winner.

· · 3 years ago

Nice. I'll hold the questions till the full article comes out.

· · 3 years ago

Thanks, Nick. NYT just posted the full stories on its website:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/automobiles/autoreviews/byd-f3-dm-revi...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/automobiles/20TECH.html

BYD wants to sell its stuff at its own stores, which will also offer solar panels, batteries for homes, solar parking setups, LED lighting, etc. One BYD contact mentioned as many as 50 stores going nationwide in next few years, but others there lowered the estimate to a more reasonable three to five locations by 2012.

· · 3 years ago

Personally, I'd like to see the Chinese looking to buy the Ford and Chevy EV/Hybrid vehicles as oppose to them trying to enter their product here to us. It's taken Hyundai some 20yrs to finally "arrive" with a worthwhile, quality product the American people 'do' actually consider buying (and in alot of cases) do buy, over the perenial top Japanese products in the market. Quality-control and safety is one things...acceptance is a whole other.

· Andres (not verified) · 3 years ago

It is a really old car in design....it will never make it unless it changes completly...this car wouldnt sell even in Argentina!!! Have these people taken a look to 2012 Focus EV? It cannot be compared!

· · 3 years ago

Andres, But the Focus EV will likely cost $35-37K and doesn't have a range extender. The Volt costs $41K with its range extender. There are a lot of people out there who don't really care that much about looks and care more about what the car can do—frugalists, practicalists, and cheapskates alike :)

· · 3 years ago

Brad, any details on their powertrain ?

It sounds like the generator will never power the wheels directly, right ? But the generator can send the electricity directly to the motor instead of through the battery. If this is the case, F3DM is a true serial PHEV.

· · 3 years ago

Obviously as others have been quick to point out, quality is a major concern. The Chinese haven't instilled much confidence in consumers with the junk they have been making for the past few decades. Cheap goods yes, but quality has been a faint afterthought.

A purchase as big as a car makes people thing long and hard about he durability the product will have for the next 5-8 years, not so when you are buying a cellphone or ipod.

Warren Buffet seems to think they can bridge the quality gap so who knows, time will tell. The good news is that they a sub-$30,000 plug in with a range extender will push others to do the best they can to compete with this.

· · 3 years ago

In terms of quality - Chinese can make a product to any price point. The reason most Chinese products are sub-par in quality is that the WalMarts and Targets actually pay very little for the products. Retailers here have insane markups on most of the products they import from the developing world.

You give them a decent amount to work with, they can make excellent products (iDevices for eg.). I've some Chinese made furniture which is excellent in workmanship. Absolutely no cutting corners unlike some of the locally made stuff I have.

But of couse, as they say in marketing, perception is reality. So BYD has a very steep hill to climb.

· Nathan (not verified) · 3 years ago

Tom hit it... Having a sub-$30k plug-in on the market can only mean good things for a competitive vehicle set. I can't wait to see which established brand hits the market with the entry level plug-in rather than creating high dollar halo cars...

I love hearing that BYD will be selling a range of battery and solar oriented product at their stores. They are, at their core, a battery company and it will be nice to see what they can do in other areas of the marketplace.

Side note... I wonder how much of the Volt price tag goes to the years of marketing it as the GM halo?

· · 3 years ago

EVNow: "perception is reality" 100% correct. I'm willing to bet that 90% of the US population thinks "Chinese Quality" is an oxymoron.

I think the solar connection to the EV's they are selling has huge potential. So many of the people I know that are driving an EV have went out and installed a solar array after they got the car. Many had it before, but a great percentage installed the system after they experienced electric drive and realized they would be driving an EV for the rest of their lives.

I think there is a great potential for solar companies to jump onto the EV wagon now. Reach out to Nissan, Ford & Chevy now and make a commitment to offer anyone that buys or leases a new EV a discount on a solar system. Make the offer good for one year after the purchase because the consumer will need a little time to think about it and decide if they want to make the commitment. Plus, after a few months driving an EV, I believe a large percentage will love the experience and realize they want to drive electric from now on. Why not secure a way to ensure your fuel costs will be reduced (if not eliminated) and isolate yourself from the possibility of future spikes in electricity rates?

· Ben (not verified) · 3 years ago

Basic Design Set for New BYD-Daimler Electric Car

http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/01/24/basic-design-set-for-new-b...

I suspect when BYD finally arrives on the US market, they will have quickly moved beyond basic machines like the F3DM and offer something a lot more appealing.

· · 3 years ago

The car, especially the interior looks eerily like my mid-2000's Toyota Corolla. Did they just copy it?

· · 3 years ago

From what I saw, the quality was just about there. Durability, that's the unknown, especially considering the need to set up reliable service departments. But BYD seems to be in it for the long haul, so over time, they could grow into a very viable alternative. Keep this in mind: BYD's primary market is China. U.S. is an afterthought. Also, there's a lot of support from Chinese government for EVs.

Regarding the powertrain: I would call it a parallel-series, not just a series. You have to consider the "dual mode" is really a good name for it. In EV mode, it's just an EV--with battery through motor to the wheels. Both motors can be brought into service as necessary for a total of 75 kW. In HEV mode--that's exactly what the button says "HEV"--the engine powers the 25 kW motor-generator that recharges the battery (until it reaches about 30% SOC). That same motor-generator can simultaneously assist the main 50 kW motor with propulsion. In fact, both of those motors, PLUS the gas engine can go directly to wheels. In other words, all routes are open in all directions.

Of course, first 30 to 40 miles, it's only EV. After that, as I explained in the NYT piece, the engine roars at high RPM. What's neat is how small and efficient the engine is.

One other point: the e6 will probably have one of the biggest battery packs on the market (meaning as much as 200 miles of range), will maybe beat the F3DM to the first private sales, and is a newer model with more quality/design enhancements. Between the two models, and the attractive price, I'm guessing BYD will get nibbles, even if the quality/durability is not yet proven.

Reality for the timing, and passing reg hurdles, is still up in the air.

· · 3 years ago

Here's what a Corolla interior looks like:
http://l.yimg.com/dv/izp/toyota_corolla_le_2007_dashboard_dashboard.jpg

· · 3 years ago

@SpiralEV, it is almost exactly the same! It may be that BYD got some old Toyota stamping and injection molding equipment at a bargain?

· · 3 years ago

Actually, the more I think about this, the fact that the BYD F3DM has the exact same interior, even down to the placement of the speakers in the door panels, feels like a bigger story here. Can you actually just rip off another manufacturer's design without legal ramifications? Even if they did get the same injection molding equipment and stamping equipment, it doesn't seem like it should be legal for a company to simply use the same design.

· · 3 years ago

All this just boggles the mind. Five years ago we thought we'd lost the battle and the future looked pretty bleak. Suddenly we have real hardware hitting the road instead of empty promise. Thrilled to see that BYD is actually turning the corner here and jumping in with the big-boys. In the end, the consumers can only win.

As others have said - not everybody is willing or able to pay for "pretty." We all want functional, but we don't all want to pay for Corinthian leather, ya know? All that said... yikes that's ugly. ;)

· · 3 years ago

@Nick, looking at it more, the exterior looks a heck of a lot like a Corolla too. Either Toyota sold them the rights to something or they stole the design. If it's the latter I can't imagine they'll be able to sell them in the US.

· · 3 years ago

The exterior and the interior are EXACTLY the same as a 2007 Toyota Corolla. Just looked up pics on Edmunds.com. Wow! I didn't think you could get away with that! BYD has some balls. I wonder if Toyota is going to take them to court? The only things that appear to be different are the gauge cluster, the headlights, the radio stack and the shift lever.

· · 3 years ago

@SpiralEV, the only way this would be copacetic is if Toyota did sell them the rights to the vehicle design. Not out of the question, but knowing how these things work, I'd be incredibly surprised if Toyota did that given that they would be risking public perception that they are involved with BYD.

· · 3 years ago

I'ven't compared side by side (hint, hint) - but it looks generic Japanese design from earlier days.

BTW, when I was in India last time, I saw Chinese made iPhones with a qwerty keyboard ;-)

· · 3 years ago

I just looked at their website. How do you think Mercedes feels about this model: http://www.byd.com/showroom.php?car=f8

How can they do this?

· Ben (not verified) · 3 years ago

Copying the looks from the leader really only enforces the "superiority" of the leader at the end. It is actually a form of free advertisement for the leader at the followers' expense. Cars are not like watches. You can easily tell the difference between a real BMW 7 series and a well made Hyundai Genesis. Both are excellent machines, but someone set on getting the BMW will never buy that Hyundai no matter how nice the Genesis is even if it is 90% of a BMW at 50% of the cost. Even jewelers have trouble telling the differences between a well made $500 fake Rollex and a $5000 real one. Many a desirer of a real $5000 Rolex have settled for a nice $500 fake, but this kind of thing doesn't happen to car buyers. BYD have no shame in emulating Toyota's looks. Toyota doesn't really care. Why should they? All these Toyota looking BYDs only help to reinforce Toyota's superior sense of tastes in styling.

· · 3 years ago

Ben, it's not just "emulation" it's an exact copy of a 2007 Toyota Corolla. There's no superior sense of styling... it's exactly the same.

· · 3 years ago

Darell said it. Not everybody is willing to pay for pretty.

I know that EVs have to appeal on multiple levels, but doesn't getting off oil come first--along with bringing the right technology to the marketplace at the right time? Generic styling might be worth the tradeoff for a truly affordable EV or PHEV.

Besides, BYD will improve designs over time. The same way that Tesla is starting with luxury market and working its way down to a reasonable electric sedan--maybe a Chinese car company can start at bargain basement prices and work its way up to something more stylish.

And everybody meets in the middle in about 2014 or 2015. Boom, EVs really start taking off.

· Ben (not verified) · 3 years ago

Nick,

In response to your "Ben, it's not just "emulation" it's an exact copy of a 2007 Toyota Corolla. There's no superior sense of styling... it's exactly the same." I have the following to say:

1) Let's be honest here. BYD never did copy Toyota exactly. Exact copy means identical in every detail down to he last nut & bolt. The F3DM certainly looks very similar to the 2007 Corrolla from the outside. There is no doubt that BYD took apart a Corrolla and reverse engineered the F3 out of it. Unfortunately this is the realty of "industrial apprenticeship" since the beginning of human civilization.

2) Very few auto makers ever patent the styling of their vehicles, because such design patents are almost impossible to defend in the court. The infinite ways someone can skirt around your "styling patent" makes such patents practically useless.

3) The core technology of the BYD F3M under the skin is entirely BYD's own R&D effort. There is clearly no emulation or reverse engineering in this category.

· · 3 years ago

Ben, we never were talking about underlying technology. With that you've changed the discussion to make your point easier to defend. No one, and I mean NO ONE, will argue with you that the underlying technology is not copied or that ther may be differences in the construction of the frame and underlying chassis (although we can't know for sure at this point can we?).

My original point that the styling is EXACTLY the same--both interior and exterior--as a 2007 Corolla stills stands and is completely accurate. I get that you're okay with this, that you think it's defendable and that you even seem to approve of it. All I'm saying is that I think it's wrong. I actually don't care about what's legal and illegal in this sense--those two thing are often not correlated with right and wrong. And I do think Toyota and Mercedes and whoever else has been copied should have legal recourse in a society that protects intellectual property.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

BYD has a poor reputation for quality in China; this is why its sales were collapsing in China last year after it took off on aggressive pricing in 2009, as Chinese consumers found out that BYDs were junks. Likewise overseas customers of BYD's export models complain about poor quality of their new BYD F3s.

If you knew about F3 and its cousin F3DM, then you wouldn't write an article like this because F3/F3DM are basically junks.

· · 3 years ago

A couple of years ago BYD ripped off the Lexus RX design and then obtained a copyright with the Euro­pean trade­mark office for their stolen design! China is well known for their blatant disregard for intellectual property rights. I guess if you are a car company that doesn't need to invest in a design studio you can save a lot of development costs.
http://lexusenthusiast.com/2009/03/27/chinas-byd-auto-releases-lexus-rx-...

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

Opinions over the relative attractiveness of the BYD versus the Volt are
splitting hairs. The Volt is as plain a car as can be built for about $2 billion.
I don't see this BYD model as their path to riches, since EREV technology is
a complete dead end - it ,manages to combine the worst features of both EV
and ICE technology into one cramped and horribly complicated vehicle. If
it ever did, the technology certainly now, with dramatically lower battery costs,
makes no sense whatsoever. BYD's upcoming EV, on the other hand, currently
in testing, seems much more promising - a driving range that eclipses the Leaf
and all the other 100 mile range vehicles and has a fast recharge capability. The
consumers are being taken advantage of by those offering these first, almost
useless, EVs that not only have driving ranges that limit the car to practically
neighborhood travel, but have no provisions for easy expansion of the battery
packs and, in the case of GM, what's much worse, also use proprietary batteries.
I have yet to hear any warnings about this from any of the journalists.
Calling a $28K car an "affordable" entry is something of a joke, I presume.
Right now, you can honestly say that the Tesla Model S is better than
competing ICE vehicles from BMW and Mercedes. It will be the first practical EV on the road, despite its $50K+ price tag. Ironically, the Chevy Volt, which makes such a big deal about its driving range, has a range that's no greater than the all-electric Tesla Model S. Now how in the world did GM manage that less-than-impressive feat?

· · 3 years ago

Indy: I remember reading about the Lexus copy. I was looking for it on their website recently, I didn't know they stopped making it. It's really something how they do blatant, exact copies.

· Ben (not verified) · 3 years ago

To Nick,

In response to your comment "My original point that the styling is EXACTLY the same--both interior and exterior--as a 2007 Corolla stills stands and is completely accurate."

I have dealt with the US Patent Office for many years, and my name appears on 6 US patents as the sole inventor. I can tell you straight up that your definition of "Exactly the Same" is completely indefensible in the court of law. The "styling" of any product is a very vague subject. Exact copying literally means an identical duplication as far as patent and trade mark protection is concerned in the court of law, and it is absolutely illegal. Style emulation is generally subjective and almost all emulators can easily get away with it in the court of law. I never said it is the right thing to do. I am simply pointing out the reasons why it can be easily done by just about any body. The bottom line is that most market leaders (in the auto business) don't really care about anyone emulating their styles. Style emulation by market followers ultimately benefits the market leaders.

· · 3 years ago

@Nick "My original point that the styling is EXACTLY the same--both interior and exterior--as a 2007 Corolla stills stands and is completely accurate."

They are definitely not the same (I only compared external). There are a number of differences - but they are close enough that you can put them up for a "spot the difference" in the Sunday newspaper.

What pains me is not that they copied, but, that they copied such a soul-less design. I guess it is cheap to make.

Coming back to the point, this shows one more problem Chinese automakers have when selling abroad. They can't copy external styling of an old car and hope to sell it here. People will notice the similarities and comment - and in not a nice way.

I also find it interesting how the Chinese & Indian auto companies are going about this business. Tatas won't be caught dead with a copied design.

· · 3 years ago

Ben,

"Style emulation is generally subjective and almost all emulators can easily get away with it in the court of law."

I don't care what's legal and illegal in this case. It's wrong. Plain and simple. And if it's not illegal, it should be.

"I have dealt with the US Patent Office for many years, and my name appears on 6 US patents as the sole inventor."

Maybe I'm just feeling feisty because this discussion with you is starting to get circular—like many brick-wall conversations I've had with some stoic engineers—but how many patents you have doesn't do anything to get my motor running. It's like someone saying "trust me" to try and win somebody over to their point of view. In my experience it's wisest to not trust the people who ask you to trust them.

"The bottom line is that most market leaders (in the auto business) don't really care about anyone emulating their styles."

I'd like to know exactly how many "market leaders (in the auto business)" you've talked with on this subject? I can tell you that discussions I've had in the past with major carmaker CEOs, product planners, and marketers clearly indicate that these carmakers certainly don't like the emulation—especially if it's associated with a low-end product. It's the same when someone does a garage conversion of a gas car to an electric one—the original OEM doesn't like the fact that their brand is associated with something they don't have control over.

"Style emulation by market followers ultimately benefits the market leaders."

If the market followers' products are high enough quality that people don't have a sub-par experience with them, then maybe. But more often than not the market followers' products are of far lower quality and if people associate the leaders' products with the low quality followers' products then it seems like it would do more harm than good to the market leaders' reputations.

@EVNow, look at the interior pictures side-by-side. With the exception of minor things like the gear knob, the interiors are the same. All the plastic moldings are exactly the same. On the exterior, only the headlights and wheels are significantly different. The hood has slightly different creases. Everything else is in the same spot. I bet the windows are even completely interchangeable. As I said in a previous comment, I'll give you that if you take the whole package it's slightly different, but if you take 90% of the individual components, they are exactly the same.

· · 3 years ago

I hate to break up this patent issue but the present Chinese economy is built on copying designs made elsewhere,whether it is cell-phones, computers, TVs, or blue-jeans so arguing whether they are copying a Corolla is kind of academic.
The key thing that I took away from hanging with Brad as we checked out the F3DM is that it is a real car. We know Americans will buy anything that is cheap as long as they don't have to ever see the slaves who build it or the dirt caused by its manufacture. Our quick embrace of Korean cars proves this. This means that if BYD makes a car that they are able to sell in the US, people will buy it if it is cheap. The F3DM isn't far from being a car that can be sold in the US.

· Ben (not verified) · 3 years ago

To Nick,

If you don't like the patent and trademark law, then maybe you should campaign to change it. The fact of the matter is BYD didn't violate any US laws by emulating this bland looking 2007 Toyota Corolla. The kind of people will be attracted to the BYD F3DM won't care much for the looks of this car. They are going to be they type of stingy penny pinchers that shop at Wal Mart all the time. America is full of these kinds of people. Let’s face it. We are a nation of cheapskates. That is why Wal Mart is so rich!

· · 3 years ago

Ben and ex-EV1,

You won't find me disagreeing that there are a lot of Wal Mart type folks who will buy a vehicle like this just because it's cheap and gets the job done no matter how minimally. I think BYD will do just fine and people will buy their cheap junk for a certain period of time until BYD decides to start making incrementally better quality stuff. At some point, say 10-15 years down the road, they will be a "real" carmaker. And if they can get away with it, fine, that's how things work.

Whether or not the debate about the legality or "rightness" of BYD's copying is "academic" doesn't really matter. It's still a discussion that needs to happen. The lackadaisical attitude we've taken as a society about the protection of intellectual property in association with the "inevitableness" of globalization will eventually come back to bite us in the ass. But I'm certainly not going to mount a personal campaign against it: I already feel like I do my fair share to spread the word about important topics related to the auto industry. However, just because I'm not going to mount a campaign doesn't mean I should stop thinking it's wrong (which it clearly is).

· · 3 years ago

@Nick,
I certainly agree with you and spend a lot of effort in my professional life trying to convince young engineers (often from China, India, or other developing nations) about the value of protecting intellectual property. After all, if intellectual property has no value, nobody is going to invest money to hire an engineer to design something. They'll just copy it from someone else.
Of course, society also suffers because innovation ends if nobody is allowed to make money from investing in technology development but most people are too self-focused to realize or care about that so I generally frame things in their personal interest.

· · 3 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver · "We know Americans will buy anything that is cheap as long as they don't have to ever see the slaves who build it or the dirt caused by its manufacture. Our quick embrace of Korean cars proves this."

Not sure what you are trying to say here - but I don't think Korean cars were built by slaves.

The best way to improve working conditions in China & other developing countries is to buy their products and put pressure on them to improve. My experience is that exporting companies (esp. large ones) have much better working conditions than others - infact they are better than conditions in some large American companies where even unionization is not allowed.

· · 3 years ago

@Nick "I don't care what's legal and illegal in this case. It's wrong. Plain and simple. And if it's not illegal, it should be."

Aren't we in Amrica so good at lecturing other countries about right and wrong ? Yet, we show callous disregard for the lives of citizens of other countries. We kill hundreds of thousands of them and call it "collateral damage". Where is the outrage for that ?

Back on topic, the way I look at it - from a business / economics POV
- China has been exporting deflation for a long time
- China provides cheap products to the rest of the world

The world agrees to let them copy stuff.

· · 3 years ago

EVNow, Certainly those things you mention are worth outrage, but the topic thread is about EVs. I never said I was or wasn't outraged by any of the other things you mentioned. Plus, when I say it should be illegal and it's wrong, I mean for all instances anywhere in the world. I'm not patriotically selective about my feelings on that.

RE: "The world agrees to let them copy stuff."

I never agreed to let them copy stuff. I don't think anybody has actually agreed. I know you don't actually think it, but what you imply with that statement is that there is some council or something that has given them carte blanche to "copy stuff." If it were that easy we'd be living in a worldwide dictatorship. Certainly most every politician, diplomat and CEO has been asleep at the wheel or looked blindly in the other direction as China has basically done whatever it wants in turn for cheap labor, new business opportunities and finance of the world's out-of-control consumerism. But that doesn't mean that the millions and millions of people who think it's wrong have agreed to let them do it.

· · 3 years ago

@EVNow,
Perhaps we should agree to disagree and get back to EVs.
You should be rejoicing then about the report on the BYD.

· · 3 years ago

I really don't see how an electric car would work under the BMW brand. There's no sound, it's heavy, it's expensive for the performance, etc. However a Rolls-Royce (one of BMWs other brands) could work. There's a lot of margin in a Rolls-Royce to cover the expensive battery pack, they are already heavy as hell, and they want the Rolls-Royce to be very quiet. They could easily build a Rolls-Royce with 200 - 300 mile range BEV. The downside for EV fans is that Rolls-Royce only sells a few thousand unit per year.

· · 3 years ago

Well I guess I should have Goggled before I posted above.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/21/rollsroyce-electric-idUSL3E7DL...

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 3 years ago

About the Corolla 2007 look of the car, has someone checked if Toyota didn’t sell the molds to BYD instead of throwing them away? After all, if they can have some money for an old model molds it seems like a fair deal.
On the F3DM, is there an indication if the car can use E85 as a flex-fuel? It was indicated that the Volt was not Flex-Fuel right now, so if the F3DM is, it has an advantage of being able to drive without oil (only short of the 15% of gasoline remaining in the E85 though).

· · 3 years ago

Congratulations, that test drive was a geat opportunity!
Yet, the car is a huge disappointment in my eyes.
I've been sitting in that car exactly 3 years ago. A BYD representative told me at that time that they were refining the product, and that they would sell it in Europe the following year. That would have been 2009. So they missed their target, but I would have expected the car to provide a nicer driving experience at this stage of development. They've been working on it for more than 5 years, it should be better.

· · 3 years ago

@Laurant,
Chinese business tends to follow a "work harder, not smarter" approach. They do a lot of stupid things but stubbornly keep at it when westerners would have quit. Then, we're surprised when we realize they are suddenly ahead of us with our own stuff. Hyundai is perhaps the best example of this in recent time.
Don't smuggly discount BYD.

· · 3 years ago

BYD is not afraid to dream big and promise a lot. I agree that the company has not delivered on many of its promises, but it doesn't stop. Getting behind the wheel for a day, even though the car was imperfect, showed me that BYD is not afraid to make mistakes and that it will be a real contender (unlike many fly-by-night EV start-ups). The timing is a question--so it's a matter of When not If.

· · 3 years ago

I'm still not sure. I remember when BYD's CEO said that his company will be bigger than Toyota in 2025... I like ambitious people, but I don't like much people who overpromise...

I've been a car salesman for a while, not for long, because I wasn't a good salesman, but that experience taught me that it's hard to sell cars. BYD wants to sell millions of cars, it will be very hard, and it will take great products.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

I am laughing while reading clueless comments in this thread.

BYD is triggering a price war in China at the moment with a round of aggressive price cuts. Why? To counter the massive sales collapse since last year. Why is BYD's sales falling like a rock off the cliff in a booming market with 25% annual sales growth? Because BYD's quality is terrible even by Chinese standard. It's not like Chinese consumers have high expectation for quality, but BYD can't even meet that. Now how likely is that BYD can meet American consumer expectation for quality? None.

And don't compare Chinese with Hyundai-Kia, because Chinese and Korean auto industries are totally different as night and day. Korean auto industry was a dead-ringer for Japanese auto industry, while Chinese auto industry resembles that of the US auto industry in the 20s.

· · 3 years ago

@Laurent,
I never said I liked them either but that doesn't mean I don't respect them (as a threat).
I've been locked inside fenced-in, Korean sweatshop engineering labs until I've solved problems (that weren't mine) against my will (until 4:00 am). I cringe when I see Americans flock to buy their slave-made products because they are so cheap. Needless to say, I didn't exactly appreciate EVNow's naive suggestion that the Koreans treat people nicely earlier in this thread.
It does not require great products to sell millions. It requires products of great perceived value.
They will produce garbage and sell it cheaply to American's who can only comprehend the pricetag they see at BestBuy, Walmart, Amazon, or eBay. They will slowly keep improving it. They will keep selling more, until, eventually, they will be the only ones selling things. Why should China do things differently than Japan and Korea have? Have you ever heard of Sony, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, JVC, TEAC, Toyota, Honda, Mazda LG, Samsung, Hyundai, Kia, Haiar, Lenovo, HTC, Compal, etc? Do you know their product histories?
In the BYD F3DM, I saw a vehicle that had a potentially high perceived value: Its cost is going to be low and its quality was mediocre, yet usable so the value is still high.

· · 3 years ago

@Anonymous,
Please elaborate on your statement that:
"Korean auto industry was a dead-ringer for Japanese auto industry, while Chinese auto industry resembles that of the US auto industry in the 20s"

· · 3 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver

Perceived value is precisely the problem because the BYD hybrid would be $10,000 more expensive than a Honda Civic, which is very well built, comes from a respected manufacturer, and drives very quietly.

The BYD should be better because of its superior plug-in technology but you don't have an immediate feeling of that superiority when you look, touch or drive the car.

· · 3 years ago

@Laurent,
The $7500 tax break and reduced fuel and maintenance costs bring it to parity with the Honda though, cost wise. How valuable, then is the PHEV cool/ security factor?

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

@ ex-EV1 driver

Korean auto industry was export-driven, and Korean domestic market was protected from imports until the local industry was strong enough to compete with imports. Almost all Korean cars were being engineered to US and European standards because they had to be exportable.

China auto industry is local consumption driven, and there are 130 automakers competing for the slice of pie, making it impossible to build the economy of scale. Even worse, foreign brands control 60% market share and most of 100,000 yuan or above market, while Chinese beat each other out in sub 100,000 yuan market, leaving little profits to grow. Chinese brand cars are engineered to Chinese standard, because building them to US or European standard increases cost and drives them out of Chinese domestic market.

· · 3 years ago

@Anonymous,
I suggest you go back and read the article again. While you may comfort yourself with the thought that Chinese cars aren't a threat to the US auto industry Brad and I didn't see this. I suspect you're a Detroit apologist so please do something to kick them into action. Otherwise the mantra that you preach will only allow Detroit to die feeling comfortable but they'll still die.
There were over 130 US automakers in the infancy of the automobile in the US but mergers and attrition took their course and the strong survived.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

@ ex-EV1 driver

To grow, an automaker has to have a model that generates $10K profit per vehicle sold.

GM and Ford had their SUVs to generate that $10K profit.
Toyota had Crown to generate that $10K profit
Hyundai had Grandeur to generate that $10K profit.
Germans excluding VW make that $10K profit per car sold for their mid-range models.

For a comparison, Honda has no model that sells in volume and genetayes $10K profit per vehicle sold, and this is why Honda has been struggling to expand recently.

There is no Chinese brand model that generate $10K profit per vehicle sold, with the single exception of Hong Qi sold to Communist Party officials. Heck, most of them are priced $10K and under, and generating $500 profit/vehicle.

Basically, the communist party planners screwed up and they gave the control of Chinese domestic market to foreign companies, making it impossible for Chinese brand companies to come up with high-end models now and in the future, because foreigners that have cornered that market segment. It's like mammals during Dinosaur time. Mammals stayed the size of rats living underground while dinosaurs were around. Mammals only came out of underground and began to grow when dinos were wiped out by the asteroid strike. Chinese automakers are like those rat-sized mammals living along with dinosaurs(GM, VW, Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, BMW, Mercedes, Audi) on same ground. Mammals can't grow in size as long as dinos(foreign automakers) are around, and there is no asteroid strike to wipe out foreign automakers from Chinese domestic auto market.

Japanese and Korean government planners made sure their domestic automakers wouldn't face foreign competition while they were still growing, and opened up the market only after they were already exporting to the US and were ready to compete with foreign brand cars.

· · 3 years ago

@Nick - ok, let us do a second take on this.

"I don't care what's legal and illegal in this case. It's wrong. Plain and simple. And if it's not illegal, it should be."

Do we know they copied without permission ? For eg., if they bought the molds from Toyota, it is equivalent to taking Toyota's permission.

I can think of a parallel example here, right in the US. A very large software company has copied a best selling business software and gives it away free. It is called Open Office. Is that wrong ? Should that be illegal ?

· · 3 years ago

@anonymous,
"To grow, an automaker has to have a model that generates $10K profit per vehicle sold."
Which GM business operations manual did you read that from? While I agree that having vehicles that generate $10K profit is good for business, I also suspect that there may be other metrics that can allow an automaker to do just as well.
For example, what about "to grow and automaker has to have a model that generated 10% profit per vehicle". With that model you can be sure that growth probably won't exceed 10% but it may happen.
I wonder if the problem with the American automakers is that they believe your silly statement is necessary and sufficient to grow. That would be pretty naive. That would mean that if you can sell one model for a $10,000 profit, you can lose on all your other models? hmm, I don't think so.
Why don't you ask whomever told you that where it came from and tell me the justifications and the rest of the story.
Thanks

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

that is very perfect thing. I hope I can drive one in Canada.

Perceived value is precisely the problem because the BYD hybrid would be $10,000 more expensive than a Honda Civic, which is very well built, comes from a respected manufacturer, and drives very quietly.

The BYD should be better because of its superior plug-in technology but you don't have an immediate feeling of that superiority when you look, touch or drive the car.

www.facebook.com/bydcompany
www.facebook.com/autobyd

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