Back in December of 2010, BYD Motors and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) inked a deal to try out the automaker's dual-mode F3DM plug-in hybrid, testing the vehicle in advance of its scheduled 2012 U.S. launch. The test is designed to get a feel for how the vehicle does in the U.S., because BYD aims to sell "tens of thousands" of F3DMs here in the States by the end of 2012. It could do so if it manages to offer the plug-in hybrid sedan at its target base price of $28,800.

Recently, Brad Berman of Plug In Cars was presented with the unique opportunity to pilot the F3DM and posted his first drive impressions, which we've summed up briefly below:
  • Quality: Don't think Yugo. Think Hyundai 1.0. The car reminded me of an Y2K-era Toyota Corolla.
  • Electricness: No matter how hard you push the F3DM, if you want to stay in EV mode, it will-as long as there's sufficient charge in the battery. We managed 31 miles of uninterrupted electric driving.
  • Biggest Gripe: When the F3DM's 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine comes on (to charge the battery from 20-percent to 30-percent), it's very loud.
Berman stated that, in many ways, the F3DM "matches the specs of the Chevy Volt." Yet, it's a stripped down model and, therefore, is expected to cost substantially less. While Berman claims that Volt is a "vastly superior vehicle" his observation that the F3DM is like a "Chevy Volt with a Walmart price tag" is, to say the least, intriguing. Catchy, too.

[Source: Plugin Cars]

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