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Daimler, BYD sign electric car contract

Team effort: BYD's e6 electric people-mover is already in production in China.

Daimler makes key move with EVs in China, sealing joint-venture with BYD

1 Jun 2010

DAIMLER AG has forged a significant alliance with Chinese manufacturer and burgeoning battery giant BYD that will give the German luxury car-maker a stronghold with electric vehicles in the world’s biggest market.

After announcing in March that they had signed a memorandum of understanding, the two companies last week signed a contract in Beijing which creates a 50:50 research and technology joint venture – Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co Ltd – that will develop an EV for China.

Backed by billionaire Warren Buffet, BYD (an acronym for Build Your Dreams) will supply battery technology and electric drive systems for use on Daimler platform architecture – as seen on its Mercedes-Benz A-class and Smart ForTwo – to create the first model in a new, as yet unnamed, brand of electric vehicles to be sold in China.

Daimler and BYD will jointly invest RMB 600 million ($A104m) to use as registered capital for the joint venture, which is still subject to Chinese government approval.

Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said the joint venture was well positioned to make the most of the vast potential of electric mobility in China.

“We are fortunate to have excellent joint venture partners in China and the establishment of this research and technology centre with BYD adds another dimension to our growing presence in this important market,” he said.

 center imageLeft: Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu said: “Together with Daimler we are making excellent progress identifying opportunities to utilise the strengths of both companies to create a new brand of electric cars for China.

“This is a unique and exciting initiative and together we are pushing hard to bring this new electric vehicle to market as soon as possible.”

BYD has plans to begin selling its own cars in Europe next year, with right-hand drive markets, including Australia and the UK, set to follow in 2012.

As GoAuto has reported, Australia’s leading importer of Chinese vehicles, Ateco Automotive, has been “keeping in touch” with BYD in relation to its ever-expanding model range, which at the recent Beijing motor show included the L3 and I6 compact sedans, the M6 minivan, G6 large sedan and S6 SUV.

Other models on the horizon are the e6 full-electric people-mover unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January (and now in production in China), and a number of more established models including the F0 micro, F3/F3R light sedan/hatch, G3 small sedan, F6 medium sedan, and the F3DM and F6DM plug-in hybrids.

Daimler set up a joint venture in 2008 with Evonik Industries AG to build lithium-ion battery packs. It also holds a 10 per cent stake in Tesla Motors, which builds electric sportscars and supplies batteries for the Smart EV.

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