BYD is likely to select the Los Angeles market as its entry point for the all-electric e6 model according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. The selection of Southern California for the product introduction makes a great deal of sense given the high density of the region, concerns about air pollution, and the possibility that the car will be purchased by Hollywood celebrities eager to display their “green” credentials to the world.
As we discussed earlier this year, the e6 model is unique because of the relatively long range that drivers can expect from a full charge. At 205 miles, the range is long enough to satisfy the requirements of any commuter and can also be useful for longer trips. Even more notable is the claim that a 50% charge can be achieved in only ten minutes. However, it should be noted that BYD appears to have reduced the maximum range estimate from the 249 mile estimate which appeared on its website earlier this year. In addition, the top speed of the vehicle is now listed at 87 mph and the zero to 100 kph estimate is 14 seconds, up from 8 seconds.
BYD, which is partly owned by Berkshire Hathaway, will not be alone in the electric vehicle market next year. According to the Wall Street Journal, Nissan plans to release its all-electric Leaf model by the end of 2010. While the Leaf is estimated to have a range of only 100 miles, Nissan claims that the battery can be recharged to 80% of capacity in thirty minutes at a quick charge station.
BYD appears to be entering the United States market carefully. No dealerships are planned and initial sales will be to fleet customers and possibly “some celebrities” according to BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu. This conservative strategy should give BYD time to build brand awareness in the United States prior to investing in a more complete distribution model.
Disclosure: The author owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway which holds an ownership interest in BYD.