Tesla cars are a 'rich man's toy,' says chairman of Chinese electric car maker BYD

Wang Chaunfu remains adamant about the value of his company's vehicles as China's electric car industry faces foreign competition

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 7:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 12:03pm

According to the company chairman of Chinese electric car maker BYD, Tesla’s brand of luxury electric vehicles are a plaything reserved for the wealthy.

A Shanghai Securities News interview with Wang Chuanfu paraphrased the BYD chairman as calling Tesla’s cars a “rich man’s toy” that only a small segment of the population would ever be able to afford.

In contrast, BYD vehicles are “mass oriented and designed for everyone," Wang said. 

Wang added that China was the “world’s largest market,” and that BYD would continue with their plans for electric vehicles despite increasing competition from foreign car-makers like Tesla, an American company based in California.

In particular, BYD’s newest plug-in electric sedan - the BYD Qin - would be “a hot seller this year,” Wang said.

The Qin began retailing in Shenzhen in December 2013 for a starting price of 189,800 yuan (HK$242,000). It is scheduled to enter the Shanghai market in March of this year.

“In a short time, the Qin will become a best-selling automobile in Shanghai, and this success will carry over into other markets,” Wang said. “This process is already happening quickly… Currently, the demand for the Qin exceeds our supply.”

In contrast to the Qi, Tesla announced on Feburary 11 that its Model S electric sedan would retail in the mainland for a starting price of 734,000 yuan (HK$941,000).

Tesla spokespersons have stated that minus customs duties and taxes, the mainland price of the Model S is exactly the same as it is in the United States.

Founded by Wang in 1995, BYD originally developed as a rechargeable battery supplier before extending its reach into the buisness of electric car development.

While the majority of BYD automobiles are only sold on the mainland, primarily in Shanghai, Beijing, Shaanxi, Guangdong and Changsha, the company has also established a presence in Europe and the United States, where it supplies fleet vehicles including an electric bus.