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China’s BYD Seeking Alternative Route Into US EV Market


BYD k9 e-bus in ChinaEven though BYD’s electric vehicle [EV] sales in China haven’t been anywhere near where they would like them to be, they’ve had their plans to get into the lucrative US EV market for years. Back as far as 2008, there was news that BYD might be setting up manufacturing facilities in California, but time and again those plans have been pushed back. Unfortunately, the market for private EV sales just isn’t where it needs to be to make a good business plan.

While BYD may be holding back on sales of the e6, they’re not giving up on the US EV market entirely. BYD’s alternative route will begin with sales of its electric bus, called the k9 in China. Actually, a BYD e-bus demo model is currently being used as a shuttle at Los Angeles International Airport. BYD hasn’t chosen a manufacturing site yet, but it will most likely be in California.

The new BYD e-bus only has a top speed of 27 mph, but with BYD’s own iron-phosphate rechargeable battery technology and in-wheel electric motors, it has a range of between 150 and 190 miles. The six-hour LI, or three hours on LII, charging time is easily fit into the daily schedule that the demo bus is running. The new e-bus should be valued at soemwhere between $550,000 and $600,000 and will be first marketed to fleet operations.

BYD Vice President Michael Austin admits that their k9 and e6 manufacturing lines are separate, but easily convertible considering the similar components that go into EVs of any type. Fleet launches of either the e6 or k9 are “more scalable and systematic” and “makes the best sense” to break into a new market as fickle as the US EV market.

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