Detroit 2009: China's BYD to Showcase Production Plug-In Hybrid F3DM


e002b BYD Auto showcase the world's first mass-produced plug-in hybrid electric vehicle at Detroit auto show. The five-year-old automaker began selling the dual-mode hybrid in China last month - at least a full year before rivals General Motors and Toyota bring electric-powered vehicles to market.

BYD Auto has said it plans to sell the F3DM PHEV in North America in two or three years. The F3DM can travel 62 miles using only batteries, BYD Auto claims. After that, a 1.0-liter all-aluminum gasoline engine comes on to generate electricity for the vehicle's battery pack, which in turn powers the vehicle's 75-kilowatt electric motor.

The midsize sedan sells for about $21,700. BYD Auto attributes its ability to offer the F3DM at about half the estimated price of GM's comparable Chevrolet Volt PHEV, due out in 2010, to a breakthrough development in battery technology.

Parent company BYD, which is the No. 1 supplier of lithium-ion batteries for cell phones, is now able to produce a high-performance ferrous-based lithium-ion battery on an industrial scale, company Vice President Lian Yubo said.

Yubo said that with this battery, BYD has overcome three of the major drawbacks of lithium-ion batteries: high cost, low capacity and danger of explosion. The battery pack in the F3DM is low cost, high capacity and won't explode when exposed to fire, he said.

The battery pack can be recharged using a home power plug in nine hours, the company claims. But with a special industrial charging equipment, it takes only 15 minutes to bring the capacity up to 80 percent.

BYD claims that the battery pack has a life of more than 2,000 cycles, a range exceeding 320,000 miles or a life of up to 10 years, whichever comes first.

BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams, was founded in 1995 to produce batteries. Since then it has grown from a small factory of 20 employees to a leading global company with 130,000 employees.

In 2003, BYD entered into the automobile assembly business by acquiring the bankrupt state-owned Qinchuan Automobile in Xi'an. Within four years, BYD Auto was making more than 100,000 vehicles annually.

(Source: BYD/edmunds)


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