Chinese battery manufacturer BYD can now be mentioned in the same breath as Goldman Sachs: both have recently been given the blue-chip imprimatur by U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffet. The Oracle of Omaha's MidAmerican Energy Holdings has bought a 10-percent stake in BYD for $230 million.
BYD has big plans for its lithium-ion battery work and its automotive division. The company's automaking arm builds – or clones, depending on your viewpoint – cars that it intends to eventually export around the world, including America. Its ultimate aim is create its own cars that run on its own batteries, like the e6. Assuming that BYD gets the batteries to work, and then can sell them to other automakers, the company will have a huge competitive advantage. If it can sell its cars, that is.
Buffett's investment will help BYD achieve that, and should help Buffett make even more money. BYD says another planned use of that $230 million is to accelerate its move into the U.S. market, which was planned for 2010. When they finally do arrive, we'll see if Buffett has as much faith in their vehicles as he does in their batteries.