BYD (Build Your Dreams), the first Chinese manufacturer to export cars to the UK, won't do it with conventional petrol and diesel models – instead there will be a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric vehicle, probably in 2012.
Both cars – the hybrid F3DM and the electric e6 – went on show for the first time in Europe at the Geneva motor show, with Mr Paul Lin of BYD's export division promising that the UK is an important part of the company's European plans.
'By 2015 we will have a dealer network and a full range of cars in the UK,' he said.
BYD began selling cars only five years ago, but it has years of expertise in battery technology, and is a key supplier to companies such as Apple, Blackberry and Nokia. It is also big in the new energy business, including solar and wind power.
'Our core competence is in new energy and new energy vehicles. We are a battery-based company. That is why we have chosen to launch with a hybrid and an EV,' added Mr Lin.
The F3DM, a mid-sized saloon, is the world's first commercially available dual-mode plug-in hybrid, combining a 1.0-litre petrol engine, a generator and an electric motor with a combined output of 168bhp. It is said to be capable of 60 miles on electric power alone and another 350 miles driven by the petrol engine.
The e6 medium-size hatchback, which is just about to go on sale in China and will also be sold in the US later this year, has an expected range of just over 200 miles in cruising mode, according to BYD.
'BYD is a Hong Kong-listed and -registered company,' said Mr Lin. 'We will begin producing the e6 in right-hand drive for Hong Kong later this year, and after that it will be in the UK.'
Heading to Europe
Long-term, the company also plans to set up European design and manufacturing facilities. 'It is impossible to keep China as our supply base,' said Mr Lin. 'We will probably introduce a design centre in Europe first, and then a manufacturing plant.'
BYD sold 450,000 cars in China last year – the maximum it can build – but it plans to increase capacity to a million by the end of 2010, and eventually to double that to two million.
It is currently China's sixth-largest auto-maker, but has ambitions to be number one by 2015 and the largest car manufacturer in the world by 2025.
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