TAXI CHOICE: More than 55 BYD's five-seat crossover, e6, are in service of Shenzhen's taxi fleet, and more will be introduced to replace most of the city's taxi fleet in the coming years (JING XIAOLEI)
September was a month of milestones for Chinese auto and battery pioneer BYD Co. Ltd. By the end of the month, BYD's auto business division had sold more than 1 million vehicles since it set foot in the auto industry seven years ago. Its new-energy, dual-mode electric car, the F3DM, was given a wide release for consumer sales; and Shenzhen's taxi fleet of 50 BYD e6 five-seat all-electric crossover vehicles had racked up 600,000 km of traveling distance since they were put into service last May.
During a three-day visit in September, BYD mega-investor Warren Buffet, who holds a 10-percent stake in the electric vehicle developer, once again promoted the company at ceremonies where the Chinese automaker launched new cars, signed contracts and announced recent sales statistics.
"BYD is the right choice for me," Buffet said after visiting BYD's main plants in the cities of Shenzhen and Huizhou in Guangdong Province.
Buffet described BYD as a "young and energetic" company, and said he was amazed by the performance of its e6 electric car.
"Mass production and mass marketing of a pure electric vehicle is within reach," said Buffet. "As a growing sector of the new energy industry, the new energy vehicles, especially the pure electric vehicles, still have a long way to go to catch up with the internal combustion vehicle volumes. However, the outstanding performance of these cars and the positive feedback from passengers signal that the research and development of the e6 pure electric car has been a success."
Reputed for its low-cost, vertically integrated enterprise model, BYD has a hand in IT, automobile and new energy businesses. Its products include batteries, cellphone components (excluding chips), gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrid and electric vehicles, solar panels, power storage stations and LED illumination systems.
The revolutionary Fe battery, used in BYD's hybrid and electric cars, boasts an enviable range of over 300 km (190 miles) per charge cycle. Based on this expertise, BYD has invested heavily in electric vehicles, despite that gasoline-powered vehicles, F0, F3 and F6 models remain the biggest contributors to its auto revenue.
In the first half of 2010, BYD's revenue and profit all increased 50 percent year on year, and 53.58 percent of its revenue came from its auto business arm.
BYD's future village and beyond
To supply its electric car endeavor, BYD launched major forays into renewable energy and power storage. Its latest ambitious project involves a two-villa compound at BYD's Pingshan headquarters in Shenzhen. The small complex, known as the company's Future Village, is powered by rooftop solar panels and eight windmills, and is a zero-emission model for independent electricity production and storage. Every piece of the Future Village puzzle—from the solar panels and wind turbines to the water purifiers and silicon storage cells—were built in-house by BYD.
BYD will also invest 22.5 billion yuan ($3.3 billion) in its solar cell production facilities in Shangluo of Shaanxi Province. Although BYD's 100-megawatt solar cell production line has yet to reach full capacity, construction of a second line for 400-megawatt solar cells has already started in June this year.