BYD and Mercedes are to jointly develop a new electric car for the Chinese market under a new, jointly owned brand.
I wrote that headline and then thought ‘That looks awfully familiar’. So a quick look back shows that we ran a story in May 2009 with the headline ‘Volkswagen and BYD get cosy‘. Nice to be original. But it does illustrate how hard BYD are pushing and how important they are to the burgeoning world of electric cars.
The deal between VW and BYD was to work on battery technology. Which as we said at the time makes a lot of sense. We reported last May about the ‘Next Generation’ battery technology being developed by BYD which offered better range at lower cost using more plentiful materials. And it wasn’t just a pie in the sky ‘We think we might be able to do this one day’ statement, but factual. And their credibility was huge in our eyes, backed as it was by a big investment from Warren Buffet.
But the deal between Mercedes and BYD (strictly speaking, between Daimler and BYD) goes much further. Mercedes and BYD plan a joint venture to build cars for China, a “…comprehensive technology partnership to develop electric vehicles for the Chinese market” under a new jointly-owned brand. But that plan will doubtless spill over in to Mercedes cars in the West with the incorporation of BYD’s battery technology in to Mercedes Electric cars.
BYD have been scoffed at for their stated intention of becoming the biggest car maker in the world in the next fifteen years, and their announcement that they will be introducing an electric car in to the mainstream market in the US in 2010. But they’re already the biggest selling make in China and we have no doubts they are deadly serious about their intentions.
Warren Buffet. Mercedes-Benz. Volkswagen. All in bed with BYD. Doesn’t sound to me like ‘Pie in the Sky’. BYD’s success has already made its founder – Wang Chaunfu – China’s richest man. I wouldn’t bet against him becoming the world’s richest man in the not too distant future.
I think we should take BYD seriously. Very seriously.