BYD hopes e6 will electrify sales

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 October, 2011, 12:00am

Mainland carmaker BYD Automobile is hoping its new e6 electric car, which went on sale in Shenzhen yesterday, will help steer a turnaround in the company's fortunes.

Senior manager Paul Lin said BYD would see a profit on the car if sales exceeded 10,000 units a year. 'I don't see why we can't sell 20,000 or even 30,000 cars next year.'

The model has so far received 1,000 orders in Shenzhen.

BYD, the mainland's largest battery and green-car manufacturer, which has backing from billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, has been looking for a top seller to replace the dwindling popularity of the F3. Sales of the car dropped for the 12th consecutive month in August, denting the company's bottom line and the value of its stock.

The e6 model - displayed at the Trade Development Council's sixth yearly Eco Expo yesterday - has been in use as a taxi in Shenzhen since May last year and sells for 369,800 yuan (HK$451,100).

It has a maximum speed of 140km/h and can travel about 300km after a 40-minute charge at a 100-kilowatt charging station.

BYD is hoping Hong Kong taxi operators will consider using the e6. 'We are hoping to replace at least 300 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) taxis in Hong Kong in the next three years,' marketing representative Korby Chen said.

While electric taxis are expected to cost at least 10 per cent more than the LPG versions, Chen said BYD's models would help drivers cut their fuel expenses by half. There are about 18,000 taxis in Hong Kong.

BYD is also eyeing the bus industry in Hong Kong and Europe.

The carmaker is expected to deliver a right-hand drive, battery-powered single-decker prototype to Kowloon Motor Bus next month for road trials. The government has earmarked HK$180 million to help Hong Kong's four public bus operators buy 36 green vehicles for trial.

At HK$3.5 million each, the electric bus is HK$1 million more than the single-decker diesel buses used in Hong Kong. But Lin said electric buses could help operators save up to 70 per cent on fuel costs.

BYD had earlier forecast that its net profit for the first nine months of this year would drop by 85 to 95 per cent year on year to between 121.63 million yuan and 364.88 million yuan.

This could lead to the carmaker recording either its first quarterly loss of 154.74 million yuan in the three months to September, or a profit of 89.52 million yuan.