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BYD scales back electric-car plans: report

Updated: 2010-03-16 11:07
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BYD Co, the Chinese carmaker backed by Warren Buffett, has given up a plan to mass produce electric cars in China by the middle of this year, the South China Morning Post said.

The company will make 100 E6 electric cars to be used as taxis in Shenzhen of Guangdong province, where BYD is based, the report said, citing BYD's Chairman Wang Chuanfu. Further development of the vehicles will depend on the success of the taxis, the newspaper said.

Paul Lin, a spokesman for the carmaker, didn't immediately answer calls to his mobile phone seeking comment. Lin on Feb 24 denied a report that the introduction of BYD's first electric car would be delayed.

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BYD, 10 percent owned by Buffett's Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said March 8 it plans to market electric and hybrid cars in Europe next year including the E6. The company also planned to start selling the model in the US late this year, Henry Li, general manager of BYD's auto export division, said at the Detroit auto show in January.

The E6 hatchback will be able to travel 200 miles (322 kilometers) on one charge, according to the company.

BYD introduced its F3DM plug-in hybrid to corporate and government agency customers in December 2008 and supplied 48 of the vehicles in 2009.

The automaker plans to start selling the F3DM to consumers by the end of this year and will set up a sales office in the US, the Morning Post cited Chairman Wang as saying.

Profit surges

BYD said March 14 it more than tripled net income last year to 3.79 billion yuan ($555 million) from 1.02 billion yuan in 2008, as consumers took advantage of government subsidies to buy the automaker's gasoline-fueled F3 compact cars. The model was China's best-selling vehicle in 2009.

The carmaker's sales increased 162 percent to 448,397 vehicles last year as China's industrywide auto demand jumped 46 percent to a record.

BYD, a battery maker that entered the automobile market in 2003, teamed up with German luxury-car manufacturer Daimler AG this month to develop and sell electric vehicles in China.

The Chinese carmaker signed a separate electric-vehicle agreement in May with Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest automaker. The two companies plan to cooperate in areas including hybrids and lithium battery-powered electric vehicles.