BYD Auto Launches First Mass-Produced Plug-In Electric Hybrid

Shenzhen, China based BYD (Build Your Dreams) Auto has announced that its plug-in electric vehicle, the F3DM, is now available in China. The F3DM, which costs 149,800 yuan (about $21,200) and can travel 100 km (63 miles) on a full battery charge, is the first mass-produced plug-in electric vehicle.

Although several plug-in electric vehicles are already available around the world, BYD’s model is the first to be mass-produced-meaning it’s the first vehicle to be readily available to the general public. BYD expects to sell about 350,000 F3DM models in 2009.

BYD plans to sell the F3DM stateside in 2010. This leaves little time for GM to penetrate the market with its 2011 Chevrolet Volt, which it has heavily marketed. Toyota announced in January this year that it will launch plug-in electric models for both the Toyota and Lexus brands, both of which are scheduled to be debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show.

BYD Auto is partially owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway (whose CEO is Warren Buffet). BYD started as a cell phone manufacturing company, notable because several car manufacturers have stated that the hardest part of creating an electric vehicle marketable to the general public is perfecting the battery technology.

Source: CNET