BYD China Misses Sales Target

Total sales last year rose 16% from a year ago to 519,806 units but were still shy of the firm's goal.

Chinese automaker BYD, backed by Warren Buffett, missed its adjusted 2010 car sales target of 600,000 by 13%, a report said on Jan. 5.

Total sales last year rose 16% from a year ago to 519,806 units but were still shy of the firm's goal, Dow Jones Newswires said, citing company spokeswoman Elva Zhai.

In 2009, the Shenzhen-based company sold 450,000 vehicles in China, a 180% increase from a year earlier.

Officials at BYD were not immediately available for comment on the report.

BYD in August scaled back its 2010 auto sales target by 25% from 800,000 units, after demand fell as growth in the overall China market slowed due to a removal of government stimulus measures for car purchases.

The company was also affected by a loss of car dealers from its network, allegedly in protest at draconian business terms and rising competition from foreign car brands tapping into the low-end market, earlier media reports said.

Buffett thrust BYD, which began as a manufacturer of rechargeable lithium-ion and nickel batteries, into the international spotlight when he bought a 9.89% stake in the company in 2008 for $230 million.

The "Oracle of Omaha" also handed celebrity-level endorsement to BYD in September last year by bringing Bill Gates with him to a number of media events the company organized in several Chinese cities. At one of those events, Buffett described BYD as a "young and energetic" company, and said he believed it would play an important role in the future of new energy technology.

BYD's profits plunged 99% on-year to 11.34 million yuan (US$1.7 million) in the third quarter of 2010 mainly due to its weakening auto business and squeezed margins amid intensifying competition for its battery division.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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