Chinese company BYD claims to be the first to mass-produce an electric car
13 January 2009

Chinese manufacturer BYD showed a production version of its BYD F3DM electric saloon at Detroit, which looks set to trump the Chevrolet Volt as the world’s first mass-produced car powered by electricity.

BYD claims the F3DM is now on sale in China, and will be launched in the US market in 2011.

The BYD F3DM, a credible-looking Focus-sized four-door saloon shown as a prototype at Geneva nearly a year ago, has already been unveiled in Shenzhen.

It is included in official Chinese production car lists, described as “the world’s first electric car that does not depend on a charging station”.

Local motoring journalists have praised the car’s acceleration, but say it needs further development to cut noise and improve the steering.

BYD founder Wang Chuanfu says his company’s speed at bringing the car to market results from a claimed breakthrough in the commercial production of a high-performance lithium-ion battery.

It resolves the three main drawbacks of this type of battery: high cost, low capacity and danger of explosion. Initial F3DM production is planned at 2000 units a month, and early cars will go exclusively to Chinese customers.

GM, however, plans to sell the Volt – which goes on sale in 2011 – in much higher numbers than this.

Steve Cropley

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