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February 24, 2010

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Home » Business » Auto

BYD to target US and Europe

BYD Co, a Chinese car and battery maker founded by China's wealthiest man and backed by United States billionaire Warren Buffett, aims to boost its car exports this year as it feeds what it hopes will be improving demand in a recovering global economy.

BYD aims to export 5-10 percent of the 800,000 vehicles it should produce this year. Last year, its overseas sales were just 2.2 percent of its 450,000 vehicles, said BYD Marketing Manager Paul Lin.

"Exports in 2009 were about the same as 2008 due to the financial crisis," Lin said. "Exports this year should be many times higher." He said BYD aims to sell its clean-technology cars in Western Europe next year, following plans to export electric cars to the US later this year.

"West Europe is a mature market and competition is keen," he said. "We see opportunities in new energy cars because we are on the same track" as Western auto makers in making them.

BYD, which employs 130,000 people, has said it aims to be a major global player by 2025, with vehicle sales of 8-9 million. Its F3 sedan was the best-selling car in China last year.

The company has exported to more than 70 countries, mainly in emerging markets such as Egypt, Russia, Iran and countries in Southeast Asia.

Its cars typically sell from as little as 30,000 yuan (US$4,400) to 200,000 yuan, and its e6 electric car is expected to cost around US$42,000 when it hits showrooms in the US.

Lin said the company has already sold several hundred e6 cars in China, mostly to government clients, but is waiting for the government to roll out subsidies, probably in the first half of the year, before selling to the mass market.

Founded in 1995 by entrepreneur Wang Chuanfu, BYD has enjoyed a rapid rise, first as a mobile phone battery maker for Nokia and Motorola and, more recently, making cars.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought a 10 percent stake in 2008.


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