• Mar 21, 2011
2009 BYD F3DM – Click above for high-res image gallery

Wondering when Chinese automakers will begin selling vehicles in the U.S.? Well, at least one automaker is already here, with plans to begin selling vehicles within the next year.

The Glendale Press-News reports that BYD has already set up shop at a dealership in Glendale, California in preparation for the launch of its new electric and gas-powered economy cars. The Chinese automaker already copies copies of the vehicles on California roads, as the Housing Authority of Los Angeles has 10 vehicles on lease. Those 10 vehicles are being serviced by BYD employees, and at the same time the company is using the dealership to help train technicians before retail and fleet sales begin late in 2011 or early in 2012. The retail store being used, Car 911, is owned by Onnik Mehrabian. The Press-News says Mehrabian hopes to one day own a BYD store. We hope he's set up to sell light bulbs, too, because that may be the price of entry.

And that electric car BYD plans to sell? The automaker claims it will retail for about $32,000, or roughly the same price as the Nissan Leaf. While it's probably not realistic that an unheard of Chinese automaker plans to price their EV on the same level as that of an established make, the BYD will reportedly travel 200 miles on electric power. That's about twice as long as the Leaf. Beyond that, we've heard on several occasions that an automaker from China or India has plans to sell their vehicles Stateside, and it hasn't happened yet.

[Source: Glendale Press-News]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 37 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      There would not doubt be people that would buy Chinese cars. But I would not buy an untested product from an untested company for at least 10 years. This prevents buying things like the Yugo, or the early Hyundais. History showed Yugo was a no-go, and Hyundai learned over the years and makes decent (buy-able) cars now.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Regardless of their early attempts, Hyundai makes cars nowadays that are much more than merely decent or 'buyable' and are in fact putting the big Japanese players on notice.

        Perhaps the same will be true of the Chinese eventually, but in the meantime very few buyers will opt for the crap they make, especially when they have no clue about styling or making a car desirable, and let's not even talk about safety.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ Shiftright

        > Perhaps the same will be true of the Chinese eventually

        There is no possibility of Chinese automobile taking over the world if you actually understand the state of Chinese auto industry and how they operate. The culture of quality, the virtue of Japanese for thousands of years that Koreans picked up only in the past 15 years, simply doesn't exist in Chinese culture. The last thing average Chinese consumers care for is quality and quality is simply incompatible with Chinese culture.

        Chinese != Japanese/Korean.


        • 3 Years Ago
        @hypermiler

        I'm Chinese, and I care about quality.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Chinese miles are like Hong Kong dollars: very tiny.
      • 3 Years Ago
      @ superx1919

      That's because Hyundai Motor Corp had a CEO who was obsessed with quality, after witnessing an angry customer burn his Hyundai in front of his office. Current Hyundai CEO then blew several tens of billions of dollars on quality improvement alone, and the current Hyundai quality(more reliable than Honda) is the product of that dedication for quality.

      But quality is the last thing in BYD CEO(or any Chinese auto CEO for that matter)'s mind, quality is so incompatible with Chinese culture.

      So if you truely understand how BYD, Chery, or any other Chinese brand auto companies work and compare to Japanese or Korean, then the last thing you would say is that Chinese will eventually learn and produce quality cars.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @hypermiler

        I don't know why you keep repeating this.

        This has little to do with your perception of China's culture -- it's about making money. If the US market demands quality or safety (we have legal requirements for both), then that is what they will provide.

        For what it's worth, perhaps the greatest investment manager of all time has bet on BYD and I suspect he has a little more information than we people of the internet do.
      • 3 Years Ago
      BYD: The new old Hyundai
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can't imagine anyone desperate enough for a new car to take their lives into their own hands with this thing.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "the BYD will reportedly travel 200 miles on electric power. That's about twice as long as the Leaf."--Official EPA range for the leaf is 73 miles, 200 is closer to three times as far, not two.

      But that's beside the point - if, and that's a big IF, BYD does sell this car in the US, there's no way its going to travel 200 miles on a single charge. BYD doesn't have magic battery technology.
        • 3 Years Ago
        > But that's beside the point - if, and that's a big IF, BYD does sell this car in the US, there's no way its going to travel 200 miles on a single charge. BYD doesn't have magic battery technology.

        BYD E6 reportedly gets 170 miles per charge on test Taxi fleet. Note that this is almost all exclusively city driving condition, as EVs get better mileage in city driving than in highway driving.


      • 3 Years Ago
      BYD was originally a battery manufacturer. They probably have more battery technology than any car maker. I think their entry into cars was as an OEM parts manufacturer.

      I saw them at the Detroit Auto Show in '09 I think. There were a couple of other Chinese manufacturers there: Brilliant, Geeley and at least one more. BTD stood out to us because of their battery manufacturing history.

      My belief is that for the electric cars to be successful on a wide scale, a normal person has to be able to drive one out in the morning do errands, go to work, take the kids to soccer, and not have to even think about recharging until evening when they're home for good. Like a normal car. If BYD's claim of a reasonable car that can go 200 miles before a recharge is accurate, then they might be a real player to consider.

        • 3 Years Ago
        @ alex hofstetter

        > BYD was originally a battery manufacturer.

        There are many battery types, and BYD specializes in the simplest type; single cell battery for cellphones. BYD has zero technology in multi-cell designs and this is why you don't see BYD batteries in laptops.

        > They probably have more battery technology than any car maker.

        It is the other way around.

        > I saw them at the Detroit Auto Show in '09 I think. There were a couple of other Chinese manufacturers there: Brilliant, Geeley and at least one more. BTD stood out to us because of their battery manufacturing history.

        And wikileaks exposes poor quality of BYD's batteries.

        > If BYD's claim of a reasonable car that can go 200 miles before a recharge is accurate

        It is not accurate.
      • 3 Years Ago
      are u kidding me?
      BYD going to sale in USA?
      99.9% of their car style are copy or clone from other automaker.....(german, japan and more)
      • 3 Years Ago
      theres always someone to buy the snake oil.........
      • 3 Years Ago
      WTF is the Govt in Cali doing leasing Chinese (or any foreign owned) cars?

      I'm a total liberal and this kind of crap makes me want to become a Teabagger!

      Oh wait.

      I'm Gay, that's probably why I want to be a Teabagger.

      Never mind.
      • 3 Years Ago
      BYD is a major producer of rechargeable batteries. (Including laptop batteries.) BYD knows batteries.

      They purchased an existing Chinese auto company (Xi'an Tsinchuan Auto Co., Ltd.) and used this company as a starting point for their fleet of fuel, hybrid and electric vehicles.

      Any vehicles which they will sell in the US will be required to meet the same safety standards as all other vehicles sold here.

      Don't sell the Chinese short. They are eating our lunch....
      • 3 Years Ago
      I strongly believe that rather sooner then later, chinese cars will be in North America. Don't forget behind BYD is Warren Buffett and he has learned a lot from the troubles of Malcolm Bricklin and his efforts to bring chinese cars in the US. It's true, the car here is Corolla influenced and the price mentioned above is inflated, but let's leave the market to decide is it a viable business case. Of course, the chinese must pass all standardization procedures successfully prior emerging on the market here.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ hemusbull

        > I strongly believe that rather sooner then later, chinese cars will be in North America.

        Of course they will be here, then they would pack up and leave after three years of operation.

        Isuzu(passenger cars), Daihatsu, Yugo, Daewoo, and Renault were once here, but they all left. Chinese are free to come to America, but they can stay only if they are competitive.

        > Don't forget behind BYD is Warren Buffett

        A couple of weeks ago, there was a wikileaks article about how BYD was turning out to be one of Buffet's biggest mistakes ever.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ hemusbull and hypermiller,

        That arrival is is coming sooner that you think.

        Soem of the people I usually conversate with in South Africa and Australia have been telling me how Great Wall has been making waves in those countries. In Australia, Great Wall has been stealing sales from Mahindra. I'm not sure about their quility and safety, but I know that when their Wingle failed Australia's ANCAP crash test, Great Wall corrected the problem almost immediately, and passed the re-test, no doubt remembering Brilliance's great European adventure.

        Why would I mention this? Here's my opinion: Considering SA and Oz's trade agreements with the US, especially with vehicles, these two countries would want any vehicles built or sold there to pass the most stringent vehicle safety restrictions possible. Also my opinion: Australia and South Africa are fast becoming China's proving ground for vehicles. Geely, Chery, and Foton are also chiming in on this move.

        Let's face it: The Chinese are indeed coming. First, BYD, then Great Wall, Geely, Chery and Foton (already building a plant in Mexico). I'll give them at least 3 more years.

        And, yes, some Americans will buy one because, who will resist buying a a new car for cheap?
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