We've heard the comment, "the Tesla Model S is a rich man's toy" before. Usually it comes from a Cranky McCrankster-type of character in the Comments beneath posts about the all-electric automobile. Not everyone sees the utility of an expensive car that can seat up to seven, run with Corvettes and only gets 265 miles on a charge. We get that, sort of, and everyone's entitled to their opinion. It's a bit odd, though, hearing the remark fall from the lips of Wang Chuanfu, however.

BYD Auto's CEO made the comment – well, he said it in Chinese and it's been translated this way by the International Business Times – in an interview with Shanghai Securiites News, along with mentioning that he expects the California automaker to only capture a very small percentage of the Chinese market. That last bit is a fair point, though a tiny chunk of that burgeoning market could still mean a lot of sales. Tesla has intimated its hopes for at least 10,000 takers in its first year of operation in China and says its Beijing location is its biggest and most bustling. As for Chuanfu's comment, Tesla gave AutoblogGreen a simple, "no comment."

BYD, of course, sells its e6 electric sedan in its home country and its sales might not even reach the 10,000 level, despite being more affordable and boasting a respectable 186-mile range. Mr. Chuanfu expects bigger things for it Qin plug-in hybrid, which rings up at $31,000 and offers 41 miles of battery-powered range before the gasoline engine kicks in. China wants 500,000 plug-in vehicles plying its streets by 2015's end and BYD wants to be a big part of that picture.

While we can understand the competitive downplaying of Tesla's Chinese-market entrance, we expect that BYD is as well aware as anyone that Tesla has a more affordable future car on the horizon and that Chinese car buyers tend to favor foreign brands. It's a big market, though, so perhaps the two entities might help further each other's goals by cooperating on charging standards and infrastructure development instead of sniping. One can dream, right?


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  • 34 Comments
      Spiffster
      • 9 Months Ago
      I have read about those issues over at gmvolt.com. I dont think they are widespread, and I dont think they have caused anybody to be stranded yet, it just causes an ugly noise. Something to do with regen IIRC. I honestly would not worry about it. Look at the black Volt with Pebble Beach interior (leather trim with suede) , its super classy. :D
      purrpullberra
      • 9 Months Ago
      This CEO has rather limited and rather poor experience and it has clouded his thoughts. I feel almost bad for domestic EV producers but their cars are virtually junk. Just like CODA. Only the brainwashed buy the Chinese EV's. So this guy wants to focus on price and ignore the rest, well, let him. its instructive to nite that Tesla stock went as high as $250 today while Buffet is embarrassed at his BYD purchase. So this unsuccessful CEO *really knows what he's talking about*. Sarcasm
      Robert Fahey
      • 9 Months Ago
      Meanwhile Tesla has always welcomed competition to broaden acceptance of electric cars, and ultimately help everyone in the industry. Who is more forward-thinking here?
        chanonissan
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Robert Fahey
        when Elon musk under rate the leaf and volt with a solid "MEh" in 2010, and in 2013 calling the volt unimpressive and the leaf primitive, was that helping them in the industry? This is a competition words will be thrown at each other.
          chanonissan
          • 9 Months Ago
          @chanonissan
          @jakeY, all batteries (even telsa) have life issue related to temperature, everybody knows that, what did he said that no one knows? And he was still incorrect Because If you are referring to leaf degrade in hot climate, apart from ari and cali which other parts of the world that the leaf have life issue, because those two city temp are above normal.. provide me with Data please
          brotherkenny4
          • 9 Months Ago
          @chanonissan
          The big old companies (BOCs) will never really do EV until they are forced to. Tesla threatens them in a way that makes them at least prepare to compete. If the roll out of the low cost model is successful, watch as all the BOCs finally get around to selling EVs nationally in the US. Until then, the press will repeat that the batteries are not there yet, and a 300 mile car is needed, and the batteries need to be safer, and that there is no market and that EVs have failed. The press says this stuff, and what do GM, Ford, and Chrysler say? They say nothing, and they do nothing.
          Koenigsegg
          • 9 Months Ago
          @chanonissan
          Elon lowkey likes the Volt
          JakeY
          • 9 Months Ago
          @chanonissan
          I don't know about the Volt, but he was correct on the Leaf. He correctly predicted that the Leaf battery pack would have life issues related to temperature.
      paulwesterberg
      • 9 Months Ago
      Translation: BYD is not ready or able to compete with Tesla on an engineering, design or software basis. If BYD thinks that the e6 offers a better balance of range price and utility I welcome their entry into the US market. Hopefully they will force Nissan and others to also offer a mid-range EV.
      Grendal
      • 9 Months Ago
      He is probably a little upset that Tesla is coming to his home turf and taking a small piece of his pie. He should not be too upset since they are selling to a completely different market than they are.
      SublimeKnight
      • 9 Months Ago
      When Elon was asked about BYD he said, "We fully support BYOD at Tesla to keep our IT costs down"
      Ricardo Gozinya
      • 9 Months Ago
      He's not entirely wrong. Though given the class of vehicle the Model S is, it's actually very competitive on price. The same can't really be said of other EVs.
        Spiffster
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Ricardo Gozinya
        Eh, I still think my Volt was a great buy, and its an even better after the recent price drop. I still prefer the best of both worlds approach, but I will probably be buying a model E five or so years from now anyway.
      Edge
      • 9 Months Ago
      It is a rich man's toy, cause you don't need a $80,000 car to go from point A to point B. I wish I was rich ONLY to be able to afford this car. :)
      Ricardo Gozinya
      • 9 Months Ago
      Oh, I have no doubt you like it a lot, and consider it worth the price. But an ICE car of similar size and same level of luxury is going to be cheaper. Which is the point I was making. EVs and hybrids cost more money, regardless of trim levels and other factors, so someone saying a particular EV is just for rich people is stupid. They're all for people with at least above average incomes. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's new technology, and let's face it, batteries are insanely expensive. That said, electric cars are nowhere as bad as electric motorcycles, in terms of the premium you pay for it being electric. A commuter bike with cheap suspension and brakes selling for the same price as an Italian superbike, for example.
      brotherkenny4
      • 9 Months Ago
      I wouldn't say rich is necessary. You just need to spend more on a car than typical. However many people can afford it if they chose to. There is a whole "luxury car" market out there of vehicles that are not too dissimilar in price and you don't have to be rich. You may have to prioritize though. I personally buy cheap, since to me it's wasted money, spending on luxury for a vehicle. I think that having my butt in a chair while listening to music in a climate controlled environment and speeding across the country any way and any where I want is luxury -in what alternate universe is it not. It seems superfluous and infantile this need for differentiation from others by a means that is not truly indicative of worth or value. Now, I could almost see however, where a Tesla might actually be worth it because of the psychological benefit of not having to feed the evil entities that bring us death and destruction, and because it definitely performs better than any other EV option.
      Spiffster
      • 9 Months Ago
      No, you have the right guy. The Brammo is fantastic though its been collecting dust lately because of the uber shitty weather we have been getting. I am working on getting some customization done, and I will be posting a review on my somewhat neglected blog as soon as its done. Still waiting on a tail tidy kit.
      Kevin Gregerson
      • 9 Months Ago
      I'd own a volt by now. But, I'm waiting for the transmission bearing stories to stop.
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