Currently, BYD is the fourth-largest automaker in China and a major supplier for cell-phone batteries. It sold 450,000 cars last year, and it projects 800,000 sales in 2010. The growth is impressive, though the company sounds a bit optimistic in predicting it will be the world's largest automaker by 2025.
Its first product for North America is expected this year with the E6 electric vehicle, with sales beginning in Los Angeles. No specifics on distribution or servicing have been announced.
The E6 is a five-seat multi-purpose vehicle that blends genres and is more typical of family transport commonly seen in overseas markets. Its length (179.3 in.), width (71.7 in.), and height (64.2 in.) are very similar to that of a Kia Rondo.
The company also displayed a conventional small sedan that looks remniscent of the previous-generation Toyota Corolla, the F3DM, a plug-in hybrid that can operate for up to 60 miles on pure electric power.
It remains to be seen if BYD can overcome the significant hurdles of launching a new automotive brand in the United States and deliver on its optimistic claims. Billionaire Warren Buffet apparently thinks they can, as he has a 10-percent stake in the company.
See the BYD E6 in our Detroit show coverage.—Jeff Bartlett