Chinese Automaker BYD to Launch Electric Car in U.S.

March 15, 2010
Will consider opening a plant in the U.S.

BYD Co. said on March 15 it had massive expansion plans this year and would consider building a plant in the United States, a day after announcing annual profits had tripled.

The company, which has the backing of American billionaire Warren Buffett, said it will put aside 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) this year to grow its business.

Wang Chuanfu, BYD's chairman and reportedly China's richest man, said the firm is on track to launch its e6 electric car in the U.S. in the second half of the year, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

He also kept open the possibility of setting up a car plant in the United States. "If there is a market, we will not exclude the chance to set up a production plant in the United States," Wang was quoted as saying in a separate report.

BYD, which is 10% owned by a unit of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment giant, said 2009 profit was 3.79 billion yuan from 1.02 billion yuan the year before, due to strong China sales.

The auto unit at BYD (Build Your Dreams) claims to be the sixth biggest car maker in China and its future plans are focused on electric or hybrid vehicles.

The firm also makes rechargeable batteries and other mobile phone components -- although it said battery sales dropped about 34% last year due to the "sluggish" handset market.

Wang said he expects more than 60% of 2010 revenue to come from vehicle sales, up from 53% in 2009.

Two weeks ago, BYD and German auto giant Daimler announced they had struck a preliminary agreement to mass produce an electric car together. The pair said the vehicle would be made under a new jointly owned brand for China's fast expanding urban market.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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