The maker of China’s biggest selling car, BYD Auto, is aiming to steal Renault’s thunder by introducing a full-sized electric-only passenger car into the European market during 2011, and in the UK in 2012.
The car in question, the BYD E6, appeared for the first time in Europe at Geneva. At just under 4.5 metres long, it’ll rival VW’s Golf Plus and Seat’s Altea in terms of size. Not in terms of price, though: European pricing has yet to be set for the car, but considering that it’s expected to cost the equivalent of $42,000 US in the Chinese market, UK buyers are unlikely to be able to buy one for less than £25,000 – even allowing for the government’s £5000 EV incentive.
The BYD E6 is a five-seater with plenty of legroom and a decent-sized boot, but unlike the class norm, it’s powered by a 101bhp, 332lb ft electric motor fed by BYD’s own lithium ion batteries.
Weighing in a 2295kg, the E6 weighs 50 per cent more than most medium-sized MPVs, and performance is modest as a result: 0-62mph takes 14sec, top speed is 87mph. However, the car’s range is more impressive, especially considering its size and weight: BYD Auto claims it’ll do 200 miles between charges, and that its batteries can be given a 50 per cent charge in just 10 minutes from a three-phase quick charging station.
Alongside the E6, BYD Auto will also offer its F3DM to British consumers. This small saloon car became the world’s first plug-in hybrid when it launch in China in late 2008. It uses lithium ion phosphate batteries, and has an electric range of just over 60 miles.
BYD is the one of the world’s largest battery manufacturers, supplying rechargeable cells to mobile phone manufacturers Nokia and Apple. Its expertise in battery manufacture and in electric system control software has proven attractive enough to tempt Daimler into a joint venture, which was also announced at Geneva.
As part of the enterprise, a new Chinese automotive brand will be created, and a range of electric cars design and built exclusively for the Chinese market. BYD will supply batteries, electric motors and control systems for these cars, while Daimler supplies the vehicle architecture.