Build Your Dreams, the Chinese carmaker that made its European debut at this years Geneva auto show, wants to sell its cars in Europe by 2010, starting with hybrid models. BYD also is considering building cars in Europe.
The companys president and only shareholder, Chuanfu Wang, told Automotive News Europe at the Geneva show earlier this month that he sees great potential for dual-mode gasoline-electric hybrids in Europe.
Savings on running costs are higher than in China because of high European fuel prices, he said.
Wang said he was surprised by reactions to BYD at the show.
Europe is conservative and not very open in terms of new brands, he said. But on the other hand, the emphasis in Europe is on the environment. So we will first bring our dual-mode hybrid models to Europe. We seek homologation in 2009, and start of sales in 2010 would be ideal.
BYD, which was established five years ago by the BYD Group, has used its expertise in mobile phone batteries to develop rechargeable gasoline-electric vehicles that it expects to eventually compete with plug-in hybrids from General Motors and Toyota. Unlike its larger rivals, BYDs dual-mode plug-in used ferrous battery technology.
They are safer than lithium ion batteries and allow a 110km range in electric mode, compared with [a goal of] 20km for a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, Wang said.
BYD is in talks with several European car distributors.
We may conclude negotiations with them toward the end of the year, Wang said.
At a media meeting in Geneva held during the show, potential BYD distributors for Europe were also present. Autobinck of the Netherlands, Alcopa from Belgium and Koelliker from Italy all confirmed their contacts with BYD.
Denzel from Austria and Emil Frey from Germany are also in talks with BYD, said an Autobinck executive who requested anonymity.
Autobinck wants to distribute BYD cars in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and some other central European countries. BYD has its European head office in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Alcopa wants to distribute BYD in Belgium and Switzerland.
Later this year, BYDs gasoline-electric upper-medium F6DM is scheduled to go on sale in China. With a lower-medium F3DM hybrid hatchback to be added soon, the automaker plans a monthly production of 2,000 dual-mode units for 2009. The cars will cost 5,000 more than BYDs comparable gasoline-powered derivatives.
Demand for DM hybrid models in Europe could be more than 2,000 per month, Wang said.
He said BYD wants to produce cars in Europe to save on transportation costs and to guarantee enough supply.
We already have locations for battery production in Romania and Hungary, but for making cars, place and time are not yet fixed, Wang said.
Later this year, BYD will introduce an all-electric E6 model with a 400km range for taxi use in Beijing only because of the restricted charging station network. Next year, he said, we will bring this electric E6 to the Geneva show.