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Published on December 17th, 2008 | by Marc Rose

Upstart Chinese Car Company BYD Releases Plug-In Hybrid. See What You Can Do With No Regulations?

December 17th, 2008 by  
 

China-based BYD has introduced a plug-in hybrid that can be plugged into a regular electrical outlet, and achieve sixty miles on one charge.

BYD F3

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The BYD F3DM is the first mass-produced plug-in vehicle in the world. While the car will not be available in the United States until approximately 2011, according to an article on Bloomberg.com, the release of the vehicle provides a boost for the sagging vehicle market, and for the Chinese market in particular.

Significantly, the vehicle can be powered at a specialized charging station to fifty percent battery capacity, in just ten minutes. In addition, the vehicle has a gas engine backup that can power the vehicle, as well as charge the battery, much like a conventional hybrid.

The F3DM will sell for approximately 149,800 yuan (the equivalent of about $22,000) according to the article. The vehicle faces stiff regulatory hurdles in the U.S market, which is probably the reason that GM, if it’s still around, might have a chance to beat the F3DM to the market with its own plug-in, the Chevy Volt.

A good indication of BYD’s increasing status in the car market: Warren Buffett recently invested about 230 million dollars.

Photo Credit: BYD

Source: Bloomberg





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About the Author

Marc Rose lives with his wife and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and works in the animal welfare field. He writes fiction, mainly around environmental and animal issues, and was recently published in the Berkeley Fiction Review.



  • Jo

    Buffet’s investment is not contingent on the cars ever being sold in the US – as for those stiff US regulations, in addition to safety concerns (ever see a Chinese car face off against an NHTSA crash test? Not pretty … ) some of those regulations involve battery seals and environmentally sound battery-handling.

    I don’t want to be seen as this constant sort of skeptic (this is certainly a neat car, coming from China!) but I wouldn’t be handing over the Win quite yet.

  • Jo

    Buffet’s investment is not contingent on the cars ever being sold in the US – as for those stiff US regulations, in addition to safety concerns (ever see a Chinese car face off against an NHTSA crash test? Not pretty … ) some of those regulations involve battery seals and environmentally sound battery-handling.

    I don’t want to be seen as this constant sort of skeptic (this is certainly a neat car, coming from China!) but I wouldn’t be handing over the Win quite yet.

  • Jo

    Buffet’s investment is not contingent on the cars ever being sold in the US – as for those stiff US regulations, in addition to safety concerns (ever see a Chinese car face off against an NHTSA crash test? Not pretty … ) some of those regulations involve battery seals and environmentally sound battery-handling.

    I don’t want to be seen as this constant sort of skeptic (this is certainly a neat car, coming from China!) but I wouldn’t be handing over the Win quite yet.

  • Doug

    Still sad that a company that only made its way into the car business 6 years ago is the first 1 to sell a plug in. All said and done though, the US needs to lessen its regulations a little. It is more important that a car be well built and perform well than survive a nuclear attack.

  • Doug

    Still sad that a company that only made its way into the car business 6 years ago is the first 1 to sell a plug in. All said and done though, the US needs to lessen its regulations a little. It is more important that a car be well built and perform well than survive a nuclear attack.

  • Doug

    Still sad that a company that only made its way into the car business 6 years ago is the first 1 to sell a plug in. All said and done though, the US needs to lessen its regulations a little. It is more important that a car be well built and perform well than survive a nuclear attack.

  • Perhaps crash test ratings can be placed on the window sticker. Let the consumer decide how much safety they want. You can buy a motorcycle in the U.S. and it’s not very safe in heavy traffic. Why can’t I choose a less safer car if I want to? I drive an F250 or a VW wagon or a motorcycle. I am at all levels of safety by my choice.

  • Perhaps crash test ratings can be placed on the window sticker. Let the consumer decide how much safety they want. You can buy a motorcycle in the U.S. and it’s not very safe in heavy traffic. Why can’t I choose a less safer car if I want to? I drive an F250 or a VW wagon or a motorcycle. I am at all levels of safety by my choice.

  • Perhaps crash test ratings can be placed on the window sticker. Let the consumer decide how much safety they want. You can buy a motorcycle in the U.S. and it’s not very safe in heavy traffic. Why can’t I choose a less safer car if I want to? I drive an F250 or a VW wagon or a motorcycle. I am at all levels of safety by my choice.

  • Bob A.

    I recently rented a Prius and travelled to Tatlayoko Lake, BC, Canada. This small place was in a valley bottom about 30-40km from the main road and mostly downhill, once I got half-way down, the car battery system showed a full-battery. Its flat for about 20km and I drove completely without the gas engine for that distance at which point the battery level showed half charge. So even today a Hybrid can go 20-30km or more without a recharge and I believe that with some optimization a car as light as a Prius or Corolla can go 60Km per charge.

  • Bob A.

    I recently rented a Prius and travelled to Tatlayoko Lake, BC, Canada. This small place was in a valley bottom about 30-40km from the main road and mostly downhill, once I got half-way down, the car battery system showed a full-battery. Its flat for about 20km and I drove completely without the gas engine for that distance at which point the battery level showed half charge. So even today a Hybrid can go 20-30km or more without a recharge and I believe that with some optimization a car as light as a Prius or Corolla can go 60Km per charge.

  • Bob A.

    I recently rented a Prius and travelled to Tatlayoko Lake, BC, Canada. This small place was in a valley bottom about 30-40km from the main road and mostly downhill, once I got half-way down, the car battery system showed a full-battery. Its flat for about 20km and I drove completely without the gas engine for that distance at which point the battery level showed half charge. So even today a Hybrid can go 20-30km or more without a recharge and I believe that with some optimization a car as light as a Prius or Corolla can go 60Km per charge.

  • Mark

    I don’t care for the comment “See What You Can Do With No Regulations”.

    First, it’s incorrect. New companies are in a better position to lead this because they don’t have existing plant and equipment. The “old” companies have invested $100s of billions in “old” technology. They have a vested interest in using that to the fullest and not pushing something that would eliminate their barrier to entry.

    Second, China is a fascist country. It is NOTHING BUT regulation! Go there and disobey. You won’t do so well.

    Third, “de-regulation” in the US is a moniker for “getting the government off our backs”, which is a right-wing device to let capitalists fleece the rest of us. We would still have exploding gas tanks and no seat belts if those ignorant folks got their way.

    Fourth, I’ll eat my hat if this company makes more than a few thousand of these per year in 2011. High volume factories cost $10s of billions and we are in a credit crunch after all… money is tight. Remember, Toyota can only sell a small fraction of the Prius’s people want, because of a limit of NiMH batteries. This company will be very “parts limited” unless it has it’s own batter subsidiaries, like the Japanese do.

  • Mark

    I don’t care for the comment “See What You Can Do With No Regulations”.

    First, it’s incorrect. New companies are in a better position to lead this because they don’t have existing plant and equipment. The “old” companies have invested $100s of billions in “old” technology. They have a vested interest in using that to the fullest and not pushing something that would eliminate their barrier to entry.

    Second, China is a fascist country. It is NOTHING BUT regulation! Go there and disobey. You won’t do so well.

    Third, “de-regulation” in the US is a moniker for “getting the government off our backs”, which is a right-wing device to let capitalists fleece the rest of us. We would still have exploding gas tanks and no seat belts if those ignorant folks got their way.

    Fourth, I’ll eat my hat if this company makes more than a few thousand of these per year in 2011. High volume factories cost $10s of billions and we are in a credit crunch after all… money is tight. Remember, Toyota can only sell a small fraction of the Prius’s people want, because of a limit of NiMH batteries. This company will be very “parts limited” unless it has it’s own batter subsidiaries, like the Japanese do.

  • Nick Chambers

    Good grief Mark, take a chill pill.

    First – The title is sarcasm.

    Second – The fact of the matter is they have safety and environmental regulations that are minuscule compared to the US’.

    Third – Read into it what you want, but nobody was suggesting we deregulate.

    Fourth – BYD is the largest battery maker in China, the car market is new to them, so making the batteries should not be a problem.

  • Tim Cleland

    We also don’t know if the Chinese gov’t is subsidizing that price to make it appear like more of an accomplishment than it is. We have electric cars available right now by an upstart company (Tesla), but they’re for a niche market (rich environmentalists) because they’re too expensive for your average consumer right now.

    It’d be interesting to know what Tesla would be able to charge for a small, bland 4-door econobox sedan (like above) that was exempt from safety and environmental regulations. My guess is it would be in the $40K range (that’s roughly 3 times as much as a new Chevy Aveo, for example).

  • Tim Cleland

    We also don’t know if the Chinese gov’t is subsidizing that price to make it appear like more of an accomplishment than it is. We have electric cars available right now by an upstart company (Tesla), but they’re for a niche market (rich environmentalists) because they’re too expensive for your average consumer right now.

    It’d be interesting to know what Tesla would be able to charge for a small, bland 4-door econobox sedan (like above) that was exempt from safety and environmental regulations. My guess is it would be in the $40K range (that’s roughly 3 times as much as a new Chevy Aveo, for example).

  • Tim Cleland

    We also don’t know if the Chinese gov’t is subsidizing that price to make it appear like more of an accomplishment than it is. We have electric cars available right now by an upstart company (Tesla), but they’re for a niche market (rich environmentalists) because they’re too expensive for your average consumer right now.

    It’d be interesting to know what Tesla would be able to charge for a small, bland 4-door econobox sedan (like above) that was exempt from safety and environmental regulations. My guess is it would be in the $40K range (that’s roughly 3 times as much as a new Chevy Aveo, for example).

  • DTD

    The comments clearly show most of you guys are very ignorant of the BYD Company. BYD is a company led by a true visionary. It is a very socially and environmentally responsible company. For example, it runs its own university to train workers who couldn’t afford such education on their own. It provides medical and food benefit to all its employees. The CEO of BYD does not make 400 times its average worker’s wage (typical of GM, Ford, and Chrysler). The lithium iron phosphate battery it developed for the F3DM is the most advanced LiFePo4 battery in the world. In this battery market space, BYD has no equal. The LiFePo4 battery used by Niel Young in his Lincoln Continental Mark IV hybrid converstion is imported from China and possibily made by BYD. The LiFePo4 has a usable service temperature range of -40C to +70C (-40F to + 158F). LiFePo4 battery will never become thermally unstable. This is the nature of this technology.

  • DTD

    The comments clearly show most of you guys are very ignorant of the BYD Company. BYD is a company led by a true visionary. It is a very socially and environmentally responsible company. For example, it runs its own university to train workers who couldn’t afford such education on their own. It provides medical and food benefit to all its employees. The CEO of BYD does not make 400 times its average worker’s wage (typical of GM, Ford, and Chrysler). The lithium iron phosphate battery it developed for the F3DM is the most advanced LiFePo4 battery in the world. In this battery market space, BYD has no equal. The LiFePo4 battery used by Niel Young in his Lincoln Continental Mark IV hybrid converstion is imported from China and possibily made by BYD. The LiFePo4 has a usable service temperature range of -40C to +70C (-40F to + 158F). LiFePo4 battery will never become thermally unstable. This is the nature of this technology.

  • DTD

    The comments clearly show most of you guys are very ignorant of the BYD Company. BYD is a company led by a true visionary. It is a very socially and environmentally responsible company. For example, it runs its own university to train workers who couldn’t afford such education on their own. It provides medical and food benefit to all its employees. The CEO of BYD does not make 400 times its average worker’s wage (typical of GM, Ford, and Chrysler). The lithium iron phosphate battery it developed for the F3DM is the most advanced LiFePo4 battery in the world. In this battery market space, BYD has no equal. The LiFePo4 battery used by Niel Young in his Lincoln Continental Mark IV hybrid converstion is imported from China and possibily made by BYD. The LiFePo4 has a usable service temperature range of -40C to +70C (-40F to + 158F). LiFePo4 battery will never become thermally unstable. This is the nature of this technology.

  • ChuckL

    Yeah Mark, Those GM pickup gas tanks that exploded were really something. I seem to remember that the TV network that got us the pictures had to fire a bottle rocket into the gas than to get the fire though.

  • ChuckL

    Yeah Mark, Those GM pickup gas tanks that exploded were really something. I seem to remember that the TV network that got us the pictures had to fire a bottle rocket into the gas than to get the fire though.

  • ChuckL

    Yeah Mark, Those GM pickup gas tanks that exploded were really something. I seem to remember that the TV network that got us the pictures had to fire a bottle rocket into the gas than to get the fire though.

  • Cameron

    It’s not just the regulations that are hurting US Auto makers. Let’s face it – it’s hard to put a lot of money into R&D when you’re losing billions of dollars a year.

    These small companies have a great advantage. They are nimble and willing to take risks. It’s the way it was meant to be.

  • Cameron

    It’s not just the regulations that are hurting US Auto makers. Let’s face it – it’s hard to put a lot of money into R&D when you’re losing billions of dollars a year.

    These small companies have a great advantage. They are nimble and willing to take risks. It’s the way it was meant to be.

  • Mark in Texas

    One of the other things that you can do when not hampered by US regulations is build cars that utilize methanol. The Chinese are way ahead of everybody else in getting methanol fueled vehicles into the market as well.

    It’s not just the government regulations, though. They don’t have 2000 page UAW work rule contracts like the Big 3 to stifle innovation either. Detroit could probably compete, even with higher wages and retiree costs, if not for the work rules that have the effect of preventing workers from producing quality cars for 8 hours a day.

  • Mark in Texas

    One of the other things that you can do when not hampered by US regulations is build cars that utilize methanol. The Chinese are way ahead of everybody else in getting methanol fueled vehicles into the market as well.

    It’s not just the government regulations, though. They don’t have 2000 page UAW work rule contracts like the Big 3 to stifle innovation either. Detroit could probably compete, even with higher wages and retiree costs, if not for the work rules that have the effect of preventing workers from producing quality cars for 8 hours a day.

  • Mark in Texas

    One of the other things that you can do when not hampered by US regulations is build cars that utilize methanol. The Chinese are way ahead of everybody else in getting methanol fueled vehicles into the market as well.

    It’s not just the government regulations, though. They don’t have 2000 page UAW work rule contracts like the Big 3 to stifle innovation either. Detroit could probably compete, even with higher wages and retiree costs, if not for the work rules that have the effect of preventing workers from producing quality cars for 8 hours a day.

  • The very sad part is that our regulations really hurt consumers. Air bags cost $5 million per life saved, for example, see.

    http://scragged.com/articles/government-dont-know-jack-regulation.aspx

    I know a lot of people who are having trouble paying for cars because of vehicle inspection regulations. They can’t get to work without their car, and end up on welfare. A cheaper car would make a lot of people more employable, see:

    http://scragged.com/articles/why-cant-we-have-a-cheap-car.aspx

  • The very sad part is that our regulations really hurt consumers. Air bags cost $5 million per life saved, for example, see.

    http://scragged.com/articles/government-dont-know-jack-regulation.aspx

    I know a lot of people who are having trouble paying for cars because of vehicle inspection regulations. They can’t get to work without their car, and end up on welfare. A cheaper car would make a lot of people more employable, see:

    http://scragged.com/articles/why-cant-we-have-a-cheap-car.aspx

  • I understand that it’s a fine car and ready for sale in China. The problem is that it runs on melamine and lead-based paint.

  • I understand that it’s a fine car and ready for sale in China. The problem is that it runs on melamine and lead-based paint.

  • I understand that it’s a fine car and ready for sale in China. The problem is that it runs on melamine and lead-based paint.

  • DTD

    I think the Detriot Big 3 is using bankruptcy as a tactic to finish off the UAW. Think about it. They will idle production indefinitely, then proclaim bankrupcy. After all the workers are terminated, then they will re-open shop under “new management”. There will be a massive hiring spree, but the new wage scale will be like that of Schucks Auto Supply, or Discount Tires. Union will be barred permanently. The way the Big 3 played their hands as of late made the WAU looked like an organization of goons in front of the Congress. You think this was not planned?

  • DTD

    I think the Detriot Big 3 is using bankruptcy as a tactic to finish off the UAW. Think about it. They will idle production indefinitely, then proclaim bankrupcy. After all the workers are terminated, then they will re-open shop under “new management”. There will be a massive hiring spree, but the new wage scale will be like that of Schucks Auto Supply, or Discount Tires. Union will be barred permanently. The way the Big 3 played their hands as of late made the WAU looked like an organization of goons in front of the Congress. You think this was not planned?

  • DTD

    I think the Detriot Big 3 is using bankruptcy as a tactic to finish off the UAW. Think about it. They will idle production indefinitely, then proclaim bankrupcy. After all the workers are terminated, then they will re-open shop under “new management”. There will be a massive hiring spree, but the new wage scale will be like that of Schucks Auto Supply, or Discount Tires. Union will be barred permanently. The way the Big 3 played their hands as of late made the WAU looked like an organization of goons in front of the Congress. You think this was not planned?

  • Dave

    We need a new car company here in the US. We have a lot of car companies in the 30s until GM start buying everyone. These big companies are just too big and fat to be agile and competitive. Let them go the way of the dinosaurs. We need new companies that are built to innovate and produce new products quickly.

  • Dave

    We need a new car company here in the US. We have a lot of car companies in the 30s until GM start buying everyone. These big companies are just too big and fat to be agile and competitive. Let them go the way of the dinosaurs. We need new companies that are built to innovate and produce new products quickly.

  • This company is an example of what the Chinese have learned from us (capitalism) and then turned into something all their own, using the Chinese system of doing things.

    Most of the workers live right there at the giant factory complex and the place is basically a city unto itself. Now WE wouldn’t want to live at work, would we? They don’t mind. In fact, they love the fact that their company has grown from nothing to 160,000 employees in some 16 years making and selling batteries. They are making everything in the car except the windshield and the tires, something NO U.S. company does.

    I have to give credit where it is due. If I had some money, I’d invest in them WAY before I’d give GM any more of my “taxpayer funded bailout cash”

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