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BYD Auto Introduces Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle in Detroit; On Sale This Year in China

The engine, generator, motor and power control unit of the F6DM. Click to enlarge.

BYD Auto, a subsidiary of China-based BYD Group, the leading provider of NiCd batteries (65% global market share) and lithium-ion cell phone batteries (30% global market share), introduced its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology at the North American International Auto Show.

The F6DM (Dual Mode, for EV and HEV), a variant of the front-wheel drive F6 sedan that BYD introduced into the China market earlier this year, actually offers three modes of operation: full battery-powered EV mode driving its 75 kW, 400 Nm motor; series-hybrid mode, in which a 50 kW, 1.0-liter engine drives a generator as a range-extender; and parallel hybrid mode, in which the engine and motor both provide propulsive power.

The F6DM.

The FD6M starts out in EV mode. At medium speed it will shift to range-extending series hybrid mode, and at high speed it will shift to full parallel mode. In addition to the 100 km of EV range, the HEV modes add another 330 km of range, for a total vehicle range of 430 km (267 miles).

The F6DM uses a 20 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery pack, based on BYD’s own production cells (which the company calls its Fe cells). The pack, which runs down the center console, has a lifetime of 2,000 cycles. A 100% recharge with household 220 VAC takes approximately 9 hours. BYD says that the pack can achieve a 50% recharge in 10 minutes.

The 1,800kg vehicle has a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). It is Euro 4 compliant, according to BYD, and emits 70 g CO2/km.

Although BYD initially used Mitsubishi engines, it now makes its own. BYD also designed the motors, control systems and software for the DM technology.

BYD plans to begin selling the F6DM in China this fall, at approximately a $6,000 premium to the non-hybrid F6. The plug-in hybrid technology represented in the FD6M is relatively low-cost, according to BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu, and could be applied to any of the BYD line (F3, F3R, F8) for the same $6,000 cost increment.

Chairman Wang said that he hoped to have DM technology on sale in the North American market in three to five years.

BYD is relatively young, being founded in 1995. The provider of IT components and batteries now has some 100,000 employees. In 2003, BYD Group acquired the Tsinchuan Automobile Company, which became the basis for BYD Auto.

BYD currently has two automotive assembly manufacturing plants in Xi’an and in Shenzhen, and R&D and testing center in Shanghai, and a mould plant in Beijing. The company currently has production capacity of 300,000 units per year.



A 20KWh battery for $6000 is good, 2000 recharges not so great but in all it sounds like a good start.


So much for the great race between GM and Toyota for PHEV bragging rights. A company from China comes out of relatively nowhere and takes the cup.

Harvey D


The $6000 extra is the total differential between the single mode ICE version and the 3-mode version.

The battery pack cost is probably under $3,000.

This seems to be a fair size up-to-date compact car for 4 or 5 passengers.

This vehicle seems to meet all requirements for a family PHEV. Wonder what will be the total market price tag. I overheard that it may be below $20,000.


62 mile EV range means I would have to recharge once every 4 days (averaging out with weekend driving). 2000 cycles = 8,000 days before the battery is down to 80% (21.9 years) for my normal driving. Looks more than good enough for me (without using a single drop of fuel). Don't know what the little bit of regen would do for the cycle life, but in my case if it even caused a 10% reduction in cycle life I think I'd hit the calendar life limit long before the cycle life limit.


I doubt they are paying patent fees to University of Texas for the Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries.

Still, if they can sell to the China market this year it would be a pretty good effort. For export purpose they may have to sort out some intellectual property issues.

BYD used to be a battery maker, until they acquired an automotive unit in 2003.


Well done. This may lower some of the fuel consumption issues as China heads towards having 100 million cars on the road.


It's the return of the magic Chinese batteries.

Lithium-based, but no bad cobalt for $150-$300/kWh.

I'll believe that when an someone else independently verifies that claim (same as the company claiming $1/gallon cellulosic ethanol)


Wow...this is interesting. Originally all the car companies in Detroit were number one. Then it was Japan (Toyota Prius...Honda said it isn't coming out with a PHEV shame on them). Now it looks like China (with this PHEV) and India (Tata Nano) are going to be the next major players in the automobile market.

Dave Lazur

Oh, they could all put them on the road today if oil was $1000BBL, but they will continue to play the slow song until all the infrastructure is in place, and they've bled the public of every nickel from their present technology.


Before you damce in the streets...

Anyone else notice the oddly low range for the total range? The volt gets almost 900 miles...

62 mile ev range.. but not at full speed so we have no idea how it realy compares to a volt or any other plug in option comming.. How much of a charge did it take to get that? was it 90 to 20 or 90 to 40 like the volt.. or worse 100 to 20...

In all likelyhood the battery costs 5k and the other bits 1k... still even tho it looks like the battery is jeaby and big and low power output and not paying royalies and likely taking damage faster then 2000 cycles suggests to actualy get that range and has a very low range... and its likely bloodt spendy for a chinese car in china.... nice job hope they sell a ton.

Michael McMillan

China has a majority of the world's lithium, it makes sense to manufacture the batteries there. If they can make large format cheap Lithium batteries, then I am sure that the rest of the world would love to buy them.


The trimode idea is good. You can use two medium motor/alternators and a small ICE combine them and get good power when needed or make an EV or series hybrid...brilliant!


I kept saying that BYD were about to do this ages ago and the amount of pooh-poohing I got back then!! ;)

Michael Chomiczewski

Sounds like a great start. But for those hoping to see these cars in the US or Europe - do a quick search on YouTube for crash-test footage of Chinese-made cars and SUVs before you get too excited... Power train technology is important - but as things stand right now - one would need to be suicidal to drive a Chinese-made car.


Fantastic news in many ways. It is almost unbelievable when you consider that the “leading economies” Japan, EU, and the US are still 2 to 4 years from introducing their first PHEVs. The automotive X-price competition is about to be redundant even before it was launched. The winner is BYD Auto. What a surprise!

The fact that they say the battery chemistry is LiFePO4 and that it does 2000 cycles and can charge to 50% in 10 minutes means that they indeed do have the necessary nanotechnology for their battery. Maybe they stole the technology but before they can settle that I a US court room they will have bought enough time to make their own nanotechnology (there must be hundreds of ‘pass ways’ for these nanotechnology lithium batteries). I wonder if BYD auto is also behind the highway capable EV that MilesEV plan to sell at the US market by year end 2008 or in the beginning of 2009. I am sure that BYD auto also intend to get their PHEV approved for the US market as soon as possible simply because it is the largest market for PHEVs in the next 10 years.

The third and perhaps most interesting part of this news announcement is the price estimate they give for the extra cost of this PHEV. $6000 extra for a PHEV vehicle with a 20kWh battery is not much at all. The extra costs will almost exclusively be due to the 20 kWh battery because cost savings from downsizing the needed ICE and can pay for the extra cost of power electronics and the electric motor. In other words, the Chinese can do the needed automotive grade battery for only $300 per kWh including packing! This is very big news and I very much doubt that any US, EU or Japanese automaker can compete with that.

It will be truly interesting to follow how competition will shape the global auto industry in the next 10 years with Indian cars at $2500 a piece, Chinese PHEVs at $6000 premiums, and with Chinese car production on track to outnumber US and Japanese production numbers by 2009-2010. The Chinese and Indians are writing the automotive history right now. It is the opinion of a loser to shrug this off by referring to the possible low quality of Chinese and Indian cars. I have no doubt that they are just about to flood westerns markets with cheap cars that will fulfill all of our emission and safety requirements.


I still don't see the business here. If the non-hybrid version get 35 mpg and the hybrid version gets 100 mpg (optimistic). Then the average US driver will save 222 ($666) gallons per year, but must buy $288 of electricity so the net savings is $400 per year. Payback (not incl interest) is 15 years. Will they offer a 15 year warranty on the battery? Even with a $1 carbon tax, the payback is 10 years.


BYD is one of the biggest battery makers in the world. The LiFePO4 batteries of my OLPC XO laptop computers is made by them also (so they are not taking the beginners guide with LiFePo4 tech today).

If I were Toyota or GM, I would be pretty much alerted now.

The Chinese are switching to the fifth gear and not only with high-tech auto. They can freely experiment with new tech and they have a huge and continually growing internal market. Toyota is for example cannot simply roll out a half-baked hybrid because that would ruin their reputation.

You are assuming stable-ish gas prices, which is very short sighted. Electricity rates will rise too, but they are much more stable than gasoline/oil prices.

But your biggest mistake is not factoring in the all electric range. If the range is even 40 miles all EV, then the typical US driver will almost NEVER need to purchase gasoline. That's the whole point to PHEVs with 30+ miles of all EV range.


I want in wheel motors in my PHEV minivan. Will buy a BYD for the second car in the meantime.

Bob Bastard

Why on earth are they putting this precious technology into a sedan, when everyone knows it only makes sense to offer such tech in SUVs and pickups?


Realist, if you buy your electricity for 10 cents per kWh, then it's 2 cents per mile electric. If you buy gasoline at $3 per gallon, at 35 mpg that's 8.6 cents per mile for gasoline.

Over 10,000 miles of a year which is likely within the 60 mile EV range (remainder miles on gasoline), it would cost $200 for electricity, but $860 for gasoline.

So the savings per year are:
$660 at $3 per gallon
$948 at $4 per gallon
$1,235 at $5 per gallon
$1,522 at $6 per gallon.

Here in the UK we are already paying $8 per gallon.

Harvey D


You may have forgotten a few major factors:

1) reduction of 8 to 10 tonnes of CO2/year/vehicle @ $50 to $100/tonne.

2) Oil war cost reduction @ $500 billion/year

3) Health care cost reductions @ many $ billions/year.

4) Work productivity gain with less absences.

5) Major reduction in Oil imports and trade deficits.

6) Revaluation of the USD and cost of living reduction.

7) much les vehicle maintenance.

8) and many more benefits ......

A PHEV-40 (miles) is worth much more than $6K in secondary benefits over 10 years.

Harvey D


You may have forgotten a few major factors:

1) reduction of 8 to 10 tonnes of CO2/year/vehicle @ $50 to $100/tonne.

2) Oil war cost reduction @ $500 billion/year

3) Health care cost reductions @ many $ billions/year.

4) Work productivity gain with less absences.

5) Major reduction in Oil imports and trade deficits.

6) Revaluation of the USD and cost of living reduction.

7) much les vehicle maintenance.

8) and many more benefits ......

A PHEV-40 (miles) is worth much more than $6K in secondary benefits over 10 years.

My utility compny allows me to get electricty at 3.9 cents/KWhr after 9pm and before 2pm if I'll pay 13.4 cents/KWhr the other 7 hours in the day.


The battery pack has a life of only 2000 cycles? Is anyone else concerned about this? After 2000 cycles, the battery won't just be depleted, it will die. 100km EV range times 2000 cycles equals a life of only 200,000 km for the battery pack, and that is under ideal conditions (assuming the car runs under only EV mode for most of it's life). Realistically, the car will be running in series or parallel hybrid mode most of the time, since EV mode is only for low speeds. That means the life of the battery pack will be lower under the extreme conditions of daily driving in the city and on the highway.

There are Pruises out there around the world that have over 300,000 km worth of mileage and are still using their original battery packs.

Sorry, but BYD has not achieved anything special here. The battery pack life is quite low and it will be a costly replacement. The reliability of the other components and the safety of the car are also unknown.

What about the reliability and life of the battery pack under extreme humidity, heat, or extreme cold? Can the battery pack withstand temperatures ranging from 40 degrees Celsius to -40 Celsius?

Yes, Toyota needs to take the Chinese competition seriously, and believe me they are. Let's not give BYD more credit than they deserve though.

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