Economic growth in China has been stunning, but not necessarily consistent, which isn’t exactly good for young companies like BYD Auto Company, which only started selling cars in 2003.
Here we are, ten years later, and BYD Auto sales simply haven’t taken off. One problem could be visual, most models borrowing from designs I remember from my high-school days [I graduated in 1994], which doesn’t make them particularly attractive in today’s markets. Some body styles are even, at least according to other automakers, clearly ripoffs of their models, such as the BYD F3 and F0, which look suspiciously like the Toyota Corolla and Citroën C1, respectively. This has even led to some BYD dealerships rebadging the BYD F3 as a Toyota Corolla Hybrid to sell the car, since Corolla is more well-known.
BYD Auto’s other problem might be their powertrains which, for the most part, fail to inspire, but that could all change with some new models coming down the pike. BYD Auto could be getting ready to drop its conventional lineup altogether, just a rumor, but would allow BYD Auto engineers to focus on their new electric- and hybrid-electric-vehicles, with emphasis on performance.
The BYD Tang plug-in hybrid electric vehicle [PHEV] puts together a 2.0ℓ turbocharged gasoline engine with an electric motor that will allow the sedan to accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour [mpg] in just 4.9 seconds. This is the same powertrain that will debut in the BYD S7 sport utility PHEV. The next step though, is the BYD E9, which is said to accelerate from zero to sixty mph in just 3.9s, about the same as the Tesla Roadster.
Of course, all these new changes aren’t just with respect to expanding their market in China, which hasn’t been faring well, but to expand beyond its current markets in Australia and Asia to the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and even North America. BYD Auto does have a North American headquarters in Los Angeles, but plans to sell the BYD E6 electric vehicle here has been delayed.
There’s not much competition here in the United States in the realm of electric vehicles: Tesla Motors is in a league of its own, leaving Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt to duke it out between themselves. Other electric vehicle companies have evaporated, due to poor design, bad business decisions, or simply overestimating their ability to sell. If BYD Auto is going to expand into North America, they’ll have to learn from the mistakes of these other companies and come up with something truly different to catch the eye of potential buyers. If they can do this, then the last obstacle could be the “Made in China” tag.
Image © BYD Auto