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Daimler-BYD JV unveils battery-electric DENZA at Auto China; 47.5 kWh pack; focus on safety

21 April 2014

DENZA. Click to enlarge.

Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd. (BDNT) officially unveiled its DENZA all-electric vehicle at Auto China 2014, in Beijing. The world premiere of the serial production model is the culmination of cooperative efforts at the 50:50 R&D technology joint venture established by Daimler and BYD back in 2010—the first Sino-German joint venture dedicated to an all-electric vehicle in China. (Earlier post.)

DENZA is powered by an 86 kW (peak) motor that provides a maximum speed of up to 150 km/h (93 mph) and peak torque of 290 N·m. With 47.5 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery capacity, DENZA has a range of up to 300 km (186 miles). In light of the fact that the average daily driving distance in China is 50 to 80 kilometers a day, the typical customer will only have to recharge DENZA twice a week. Driving 100 km with a DENZA costs less than 20 RMB (US$3.20).

DENZA has been designed around its lithium iron phosphate battery which is framed by a lightweight aluminium case with extrusion profiles. Designed to absorb large amounts of energy, it is located safely underneath the body. The layout also ensures that all powertrain components are separated from the passenger compartment.

Additionally, DENZA’s intelligent Power Flow Management System constantly monitors the energy flow between the battery and powertrain to guarantee that, in the event of an accident, the battery is disconnected automatically and, if needed, quickly discharges to levels below critical values.

As a forerunner in electric vehicle safety, BDNT worked closely with China’s official safety certification body, CATARC, to develop an electric vehicle safety standard for China. By also considering real life accident data, DENZA has gone further than these legal requirements.

The DENZA has been put through 18 months of intensive testing that saw various cars drive over 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) across all of China under extreme and various weather and road conditions. This testing program, which looked at overall quality and endurance, was complemented by additional component testing and crash test programs. In total, BDNT crashed more than 20 cars, including high-speed, low-speed and rollover-scenarios.

DENZA also became the first electric vehicle to be tested according to C-NCAP consumer ratings at C-NCAP facilities, obtaining the highest possible rating of 5 stars.

Charging can be done at any household power outlet, public charging facilities or special wall boxes, with times ranging from seven hours to less than an hour. With the DENZA app, available for both Android and iOS phones, wall box customers can even check on their charging status and vehicle location using their smartphones.

Dedicated sales and service outlets from three of China’s leading automobile dealership groups will distribute the vehicle, initially in Beijing (Pangda Group); Shanghai (Lei Shing Hong Group); and Shenzhen (Zhongsheng Group). Phase 2 market cities will include Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Tianjin.

DENZA’s customer commitment is further supported by 11 service centers, a 24-hours all-year customer service hotline, and a strategic partnership with global leading technology group ABB, with whom DENZA aims to establish the world’s largest charging infrastructure in China by 2020. (Earlier post.) ABB will provide a variety of flexible fast charging solutions for DENZA customers, per request and as a one-stop-solution as it is fully integrated in DENZA’s sales and aftersales process.

BDNT’s first DENZA car will be on the market in September 2014. Starting at RMB 369,000 (~$US59,000), DENZA offers its customers exemption from the standard license plate lottery in Beijing, or free license plates in Shanghai and Shenzhen; and central and local subsidies totaling up to almost RMB 120,000 (~US$19,000) that can be deducted from the vehicle price right away.

April 21, 2014 in China, Electric (Battery) | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)


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Not that it matters to BYD since they have announced no export plans, but this is a non-starter in the US market. "Up to" 300km... in a US EPA test that is probably much closer to 225-240km. In US terms, this is a 4600lb, 150mi range car that sells for over $60k (note that I am simply taking the China sell price in $US and adding the 3% import tariff). Certainly it is sobering to see that China labor and cheaper materials still does not bring us the expected mid-range game changing BEV (150-200mi, $35k).

With the exceptional range of hybrid products across the range of size and power needs of China customers, it just seems unlikely that the putative 40,000 Denza/year production capacity will be stressed.

I think the starting price of RMB 369,000 is just a short-term price for this Benz/BYD car. It is one of the first BEVs to go on sale in China and (apart from Tesla) it is the only one with significantly more range than the competition all using 24 kwh battery packs or less. I think they will be able to lower the price significantly as others enter the Chinese BEV market. China also currently has a generous subsidy program of up to RMB 120,000 paid out when the car is sold. It is not a tax rebate see

Moreover, Tesla's Model S has started selling for RMB 700,000 or 120,000 USD. It is a much more attractive car than this Benz/BYD but also twice the price. The Nissan Leaf will also hit the Chinese market in September 2014. I am looking forward to see how Tesla does. A huge market response is necessary for Tesla to go ahead and build a factory in China.

Too bad it does not come with a little never-tracting / pure Electricity Generator ICE "Range Extender", that would make it the perfect sole car replacement of the future for the next 10 years, vs all other pure-EVs limited to luxury second cars due to lack of Range Extender (Even the one on i3 is too limited to make it a full purpose car replacement car you can go on summer vacations with, so only a local commutes 2nd car w/o the range anxiety you have on pure EV competitors).
For me with a range extender they could reduce the battery to optimal 30KWH to 40KWH instead of 57KWH, right sizing it for better than average local commutes only, with 1 charge per 24h to few charges per week to cover local commutes on 100% electric mode. Of course the larger the better on the battery as long as it can fit a decent budget, which seams the case here. Then the form factor may be an issue here (I'd prefer a compact sporty SUV in BMW X4, or Audi TT OffRoad fashion).

Henrik, I understand there are huge incentive packages at federal and local levels in China. These same incentives apply to the 60kWh+ BYD e6 that sells for less and is till not moving in local markets.

What I don't understand is how this is "a short-term price". I don't see why. BYD is already a huge manufacturer of this battery type, so where is the giant learning curve? Moreover Mr. Wang is known to swing for the fences and would not price this market entry cautiously. The point that I am making is that there is not a lot of visibility to a $35k 15-200m BEV by 2017 when you see an aggressive Chinese manufacturer clearly using standard (that is: not lightweight) materials in a low-cost labor environment overshooting by 75%.

@Herman, Henrik and Patrick,

This Denza is not just another BEV. This BEV is a world-class vehicle designed and engineered by the World's Premier Automotive giant company Daimler-Benz, to the strictest standards of safety and reliability. I would not be surprised if this vehicle will be marketed elsewhere in the world under the MB badge.

In China, this vehicle is targeted to the nouveaux riches, hence the steep price reflects status symbol and is another selling point, beside being designed and engineered by DB. Other status symbols and advantages has to do with: "DENZA offers its customers exemption from the standard license plate lottery in Beijing, or free license plates in Shanghai and Shenzhen; and central and local subsidies totaling up to almost RMB 120,000 (~US$19,000) that can be deducted from the vehicle price right away."

So, the car has a listed price of $59,000 USD, which is enough for status symbol purpose, yet, the "nouveaux riches" only has to fork out $40,000 to pay for it, thanks to BEV subsidies of $19,000, (darn close to Herman's $35k price point) PLUS other advantages as above, PLUS significant savings from petroleum cost as well as maintenance cost... It's kinda like you get to eat the cake and still have it!

But, I'd still say cut down the battery pack to 10 kWh (weighing only 100 kg) while adding a 95 kW 1-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged engine (Honda or Ford Ecoboost) and a two-speed transmission (weighing 100kg) to save about 300 kg in battery weight with another 200 kg wt saving from lighter structural and suspension parts, or a saving of about 1,100 lbs, while UPPING THE POWER TO 87 + 95 =182 kW, or 244 hp! If you would consider BOTH the 1100 lbs wt saving AND the gain of 95 kW (127hp), just imagine what that would do for performance including acceleration, braking, and handling?

Of course, I've just re-invented a PHEV mix between the BYD's Qin and F3DM. Worthy of note is that the Qin is a full-size sedan having very fast acceleration of 0-60mph of 5.9 seconds while having a listed price of $31,000 USD BEFORE any price subsidy for ZEV. No wonder the Qin is selling like hotcakes in China!

I'd like to further reiterate the notion that high-priced BEV's are ideal for high-end customers while PHEV's are more ideal for middle-class consumers.
Rich folks don't travel long-distance by cars but rather by planes or high-speed train to save time, while the middle class want to save money by driving their own cars on a long road trip. This perhaps explain the price discrepancy between the BEV Denza vs the PHEV Qin, the BEV costing twice as much as the PHEV. The high-price of the BEV serves well for status symbol purpose, while the lower price of the PHEV is required for being competitive.

Roger, you should talk to a few Nouveaux Riches in the US. They will never buy your 10KWH option, unless no other choice. By nature they want "everything", the best, including the comfort and no (range)anxiety, and they don't want to become battery charging slaves either, including in China.
Even if they often fly when they need to go far away, for their work and some vacation trips(including me), they want to have "the freedom" to drive far away too, to present their beautiful new big statutory car to their far away familly left behind in its province, once or twice a year (Summer vacations and Christmas, or New Year for the Chineze)... The greens won't change humanity, they need to adapt the "greenetude" to it. LoL.
I don't see BEV / Pure EVs winning beyond their niche market yet far to be saturated. People will prefer a range extended PHEV for ages because their freedom has no price. With the largest possible Battery, so they don't have to bother with refeeling it all the time. They will want a better EV car than their today ICE car, nothing less, no compromise. Whoever plans for that will win, and others planning for constrains will loose. Bet it.

You should talk to Tesla regarding making a large-battery PHEV, since only Tesla has the technology to accomplish that and still have a vehicle with reasonable weight and large internal space. Only Tesla's battery technology is light and compact enough, while BYD's battery is 2.5 x heavier and so can only afford 13 kWh pack like in the Qin, instead of a 30 kWh pack like you have in mind.

The Volt only has a 16 kWh battery pack and the Ford Fusion Energie has even much smaller, 8 kWh pack, and yet, the internal space is severely compromised, so much so, that I would not consider buying neither the Volt nor the Fusion Energie nor the C-Max Energie.

I prefer your position, since it is more reasonable than Tesla, regarding making more vehicles with less battery and in so doing, help preserve the environment better without sacrificing standard of living.

Let me tell you why my hypothetical PHEV has 10 kWh pack: An average American driver drives about 12,000 miles yearly, or 32.8 miles/ day. A PHEV of my design using a tiny 1-liter ICE and 10 kWh pack is capable of 4 miles/kWh due to its light weight, so 10 kWh pack = 40-mi electric range. LiFe battery can use 80% of DOD for longevity, which would be 80% x 40 = 32 miles. So, only 10 kWh pack of LiFe battery will satisfy daily driving requirement of an average American Driver when charged once daily. When charged twice daily, the daily driving on electricity will increase to 64 miles. Eventually, the BEV and PHEV industry will lobby the gov. to mandate charging sockets at most businesses.

LiFe battery of BYD is rated at 4,000 charging cycles to reach 80% of capacity, and has calendar life about 10 years. If charged once daily on average to satisfy daily driving requirement of an American driver, it would take > 10 years to reach to cycle life capability of this 10 kWh pack battery. If you now have 30 kWh pack, then you would be wasting 2/3 of the battery's cycle life capability, since once the battery ages, its internal resistance increases sharply and the would heat up quickly and would be very inefficient.

However, in spite of all the reasons above, a typical American Nouveaux Riche will likely fork out about $100k USD to get a Tesla 85-kWh version and will be very satisfied with it, due to the world-class driving experience and 7-seat capacity and very spacious interior with trunk spaces at both ends, while beating out the comparable German ICEV luxo-sedans in acceleration and handling, while those luxo-sedans have much less internal space and will cost much more to operate in term of fuel cost and maintenance cost, those ultra-complicated engines with very expensive parts and dealer service charges as you well know!

Tesla Supercharging stations will be built on most major freeways so long-distance travel major travel ways would not be a problem eventually.

Roger , you have to stop with this rooting for range extenders.

The future is going to be BEVs with the help of Superchargers on major highways. And if that isn`t enough there will no doubt be a healthy business for mobile chargers utilising former tow trucks that have been upgraded for capability to make a 20 minute charge.

Unless there is a 50km stretch of major highway in your daily commute it is possible that you will rarely need to visit a Supercharger anyway.

Most charging locales will be at home rather than that special place we are forced to go out of our way to refuel a gasoline car.
This preoccupation with ice-age machinery will continue to bring with it those frequently necessary visits plus those for regular fluid changes for engine cooling and lubrication. From that angle electrification seems to be somewhat attractive.

The trend I've been noticing in the performance of the current crop of electric vehicles entering the market place is that they seem to all be geared for top speeds in the range of 150Km/hr (93mph). The power required to sustain these orders of speeds in the steady state is about 30Kw. If it can be said that normal mileage claims assume a draw of 10Kw at 110Km/hr (65mph) then I can accept that it is one thing to be concerned with range anxiety while using power at this rate but to install a drive system that has capability to drain the battery pack at triple that rate seems somewhat incongruous.

I am not in any way suggesting that 80 Kw drives system should be downsized or in any way reined in. One of the advantages of electric powertrains that is becoming increasingly appreciated is how they scale up in power with remarkably reduced incremental costs and simplicity compared to their mechanical counterparts. It is what has given the Tesla Model S the edge with 180Kw when compared to similarly sized cars in the luxury segment.

What I will say is that marketing would do well to specify, for those less sporty vehicles, maximum speeds around 125km/hr (75mph). In the case of the Denza an appropriate gear ratio change of 150/125 will return 20% more wheel torque making this an eight second car to 60 rather than the ten seconds it probably does right now.

The future may going to be BEV, but in the present, we are needing a large number of PEV's real fast, and we don't have enough batteries to go around.

Tesla has to restrict production due to battery shortage...Now, Tesla is going to spend a lot of money to open Giga Battery build cars with 85 kWh of battery each! If Tesla will settle for a 10-kWh PHEV, then Tesla's investment in the battery factory will be 1/8th as much and will get much faster return for the money, and sales will accelerate much faster due to the much more affordable prices of a PHEV-10kWh to pay off for the battery factory investment.

Tesla do not have to build their own 1-liter turbocharged engine, since they can do a JV with another company or have someone build it for cheap, due to the wide availability of engines in that size range, and can crank out millions of copies yearly w/out problem, unlike the battery availability issue.

The rapid build up of BEV's will escalate the price of Lithium, and that will severely dampen economic activities, not just for PEV makers, but for all electronic sectors, since nearly all portable electronics and appliances are now using Lithium batteries.

The reason that most BEV's are geared for top speed of 90mph (too slow!) is that in the absence of variable-ratio transmission, the motor must rev fast to provide adequate torque, and top end rpm is limited by keeping the rotor from blowing up due to centrifugal force. Adding even a two-speed transmission will be a big performance enhancement for BEV's.

Lighter second generation Tesla Model S with up to 170 kWh lighter battery pack will have 500+ miles or 800+ Km range. One full charge a week will normally be enough.

On very long trips, either a quick charge from a free Tesla 200+ KW charger or an overnight slower charge at the road side hotel will do.

Furthermore, with current ICE having 100,000-mi engine tuneup intervals including spark plugs and coolant fluid change, and 150,000-mi transmission fluid change, a PHEV having the engine running only 1/4th of the time will never need engine tune-up nor any transmission service.

Using the e-motor for most of the time, the two-speed transmission will rarely need any gear shift at all, except when driving at its top speeds over 100 mph or when climbing steep hills with the battery completely exhausted (very unlikely scenerios) or when needing neck-snapping acceleration like doing traffic-light drag racing in the streets ("Fast and Furious").

Thus, a PHEV will have similar maintenance cost and schedule to a BEV..., except for an oil change every two or three years or so with synthetic oil that can be done at home.

PHEVs could be a good interim solution specially with:

1. improved Tesla Style under floor much smaller (20 kWh or so) low cost batteries (**).

2. an ultra compact light weight standardized 660 cc ICE power generator (***).

3. ultra light weight aerodynamic body with built in solar cells.

4. all electric accessories and high efficiency heat pump.

(**) Buyers should have the option to buy smaller or larger battery pack.

(***) Buyers should have the option to buy smaller or larger ICE power generator or an FC as range extender.

If Tesla will settle for a 10-kWh PHEV, then Tesla's investment in the battery factory will be 1/8th as much.

Clearly Roger you don't understand where Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla and SpaceX, is going with this. He is not just supplying a high end premium electric sports sedan. His mission is to use this disruptive technology to displace ICE vehicles including hybrids everywhere.

Much as we like the Prius, that and similar hybrid cars today are merely a bridge. If Musk were just supplying a different sort of car into the market, that would be one thing, but he realises that the infrastructure to support long distance travel with electric vehicles requires providing both the 85Kwhr battery packs inside the cars as well as providing a network of Supercharger installations externally. In that regard 100 Superchargers are already up and running across the United States. Last week he visited Shanghai where they have three Superchargers installed already.While there he was gifted with 3000 vehicle plates worth $16,000 each, since new vehicles can only be sold and registered there after an existing vehicle has been removed. Apparently it is not just North America that seeks freedom from harmful emissions. This maybe didn't make the news because the media was preoccupied with the Ukraine crisis.

For those who may not be aware these Superchargers are designed to bring a discharged 85Kwhr battery pack safely up to around 80% State-of-Charge in about twenty minutes allowing the driver to put on a further 200 miles until the next refill. People who need to make longer trips will probably opt for jet travel anyway.

Incidentally there are some observers who are convinced that even demolishing the established automotive industry model may turn out to be just a sideline business ! The real goal is certainly to bring battery storage down to $150/Kwhr with economy of scale and extreme vertical integration manufacturing. Attaining that price point will certainly threaten coal fired utilities since it will allow existing nuclear power stations to run very close to a 100% loading 24/7 by installing battery farms in close proximity to urban load centers. The location of these farms would utilise existing feeder capabilities which are equally under-utilised during the off peak periods.

I am going to overlook your enthusiasm for 100mph and stop light Grand Prix's since automatic two speed gearboxes will add considerable expense for very little gain. There are always going to be holdouts like you Roger who yearn for the status quo but may I remind you that gasoline has peaked at $1.3CAN/liter in some places in Canada right now. OTOH a Nissan Leaf owner on the radio today offered that his car can deliver 140Km on $2Can of electricity.

T2: awesome cut and paste of TSLA press release. If I may, let me respond to part of your final paragraph (without Roger's permission)

There are always going to be holdouts like you T2 who dream of the perfect solution, however long it will actually take, and delay the massive improvements that COULD take place with incremental improvements available today. With 1.5-2kWh mild hybrid batteries to carry HVAC and provide only creep power, engine idle elimination in crowded cities like Beijing or even Paris could reduce particulate pollution by a huge fraction as we work toward the yet-undefined Magic "x-x-x" battery. And may I remind you as a Leaf lessee (and a happy one, BTW) that my 2012 model is currently worth about 60% of its original sticker, with another expected 10-15% reduction by late 2015 as the battery degradation takes a huge toll on residual value? Despite driving for $0.02-0.03 per mile, the hit from this value decline would far outweigh the petrol savings over an equivalent ICE were I the owner.

(No longer speaking for Roger now)
I live BEVs. Unlike many of the people in the EV press echo chamber, I drive one daily, have built a high-performance e-bike and am building an auto conversion. I have also worked in energy-related projects from aerospace to petroleum refining. Reality is rarely as good or as bad as the loudly-stated positions of advocates would have you believe.

I love the daily doses of hope from the technology field, but by dint of personal experience have a rational skepticism.

I have seen the public oversold on everything from the mortal dangers of marijuana and youthful sex to the imminent arrival of the gas turbine automobile. When the hype keeps being wrong people pretty much stop listening after awhile.

As in all things, moderation generally works.

T2, I hope that your predictions are correct. BEVs will certainly win the war when various types of 5-5-5 batteries are mass produced. Will that come (partly) true by 2020 or so with Tesla's ultra large battery factory? Batteries evolution will not stop with the 5-5-5 units. Ultra quick charge 10-10-10 units are a possibility by 2035 or so.

The only exceptions may be long range heavy trucks, high way long range buses, wireless locomotives, large commercial airplanes, ships etc. where some sort of on-board power unit (FCs or ICEs or Nuke?) will be required for extended range.

Herman: Reading between the lines of the front end of your post I see that basically you're clinging to the ideal of the superior energy density of gasoline but retaining the option to adopt an electric mode at speeds below 10mph where it makes more sense, since it takes the equivalence of a continuous 5Hp or more just to rotate an idling engine. In the past I would have been in agreement with that position.

Today, however, the ability to get a supercharge anytime with location help from an Android/Iphone app has changed my mind.

Leasing as you are doing is a safe bet which leaves the risk of the residual value with the lessor. At the end of lease I would be surprised if the dealer doesn't have some device to check on the state of the battery.

Regarding risk I remember that in the early days Toyota would not even lease a Prius and the finance on the purchase never received the beneficial rates offered to Corolla and Camry buyers. The early Prius were amortised over six or more years because their owners wouldn't accept the poorer offers.

Fortunately for you the take rate on the Leaf has been somewhat lacklustre so the lease model had to be introduced to save them from languishing on dealer's lots. That said I expect that the cost of your lease already reflects a low residual price.

Harvey: I have been following battery chemistry since around 1980. Sodium-sulphur and aluminum-air were both said to be promising at that time. I wouldn`t hold out much hope for 2035.

People will eventually accept that these electric cars are going to become universal and form a disruptive technology to the automotive industry, possibly not here at GCC - Holdout Central - but perhaps most everywhere else. I recommend you go over to Youtube and take in Clay Christensens June 13th 2013 Clarendon Lecture at Oxford University. It's a corker and well worth spending the hour it takes to run and although he won't be telling you WHAT to think he may help explain on HOW to think when you face a disruptive technology. Which the vehicles from Denza and Tesla are going to be.

The essence is that disruptive technology transforms complicated and expensive products into simple and eventually more affordable ones. This process is taking place right now. And the reason this process is happening right now, today, is because Elon Musk has drawn the conclusion that although billions have been spent in electrochemistry research the improvements have been merely incremental compared to Moore's Law applied to flash memory and until recently microprocessor clock speeds. Case in point, after ten years of using Panasonic cells, Tesla Motors is about to replace the original 3.1AH 18560 cell with improved chemistry that delivers only 4.0AH.

I am not betting that this recent 5-5-5 program to improve storage cells is going to materialise either - other than a money pit - but as I said before Elon has already decided to go with what we have now. Ford GM and Chrysler; Toyota and Honda with their hydrogen fuel cells clearly use them as a stalling technique since they all prefer doing business as they always have. Sure Toyota came up with the Prius hybrid but you may have noticed that in almost 20 years improvements in that technology, specifically regarding mpg, results have been minimal.

Those hoping to find some low cost remnant of ICE technology to be included in future vehicles should be prepared to be disappointed. Such vehicles will include more complicated and expensive internals compared to pure electrics where the mantra will be simplicity and affordability.
I should disclose that I do not yet have an electric vehicle, my daily driver is a Toyota subcompact and I hold some TSLA stock.

@T2. Practical, affordable FCEVs and extended BEVs will hit the market place by 2020 or so.

Those two technologies will have to co-exist for a few decades to satisfy different environments and larger vehicles.

USA could install (over about 10 years) 100,000 quick charge e-station for about $25B (at $250K each) and another 1000,000 H2 stations for another $100B (at $1,000K each). That is a lot less than the cost of one of the latest Oil Wars.

To get it done, USA will need a new leader with enough will and untied hands. That will be more difficult to find.

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