China to Develop a New Brand of Electric Vehicle

China is emerging as a global power in the development of Electric Vehicles (EV). A joint venture between BYD Company Limited of China and Daimler AG, amounting to some $ 88 million, was recently signed in Beijing.

The agreement would allow the two companies to conduct technological research and development to produce a new electric vehicle for China. The new EV would incorporate Daimler's technological expertise on vehicle safety and architecture utilizing the Chinese advanced battery technology and e-drive systems. The Chinese corporation, aside from being a major advanced battery manufacturer, is also the fastest growing Chinese automotive manufacturer.

BYD introduced its F3DM dual-mode hybrid electric vehicle to the world last December 2008 and started direct sales to individual customers last March. Meanwhile, the new EV will be marketed under a new brand name created and owned by the two companies. Wang Chuanfu, Chairman and President of BYD, said that together with Daimler they are going to make excellent progress identifying opportunities to utilize the strengths of both companies and create a new brand of electric car 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," he said. On his part, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, stated that the new joint venture is 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 center with BYD adds another dimension to our growing presence in this important market," Zetsche added. The business license for the new joint venture however is still subject to China’s Communist Government approval. Meanwhile, designers and other executives from both companies are establishing working teams to begin working on the vehicle concept.

Daimler recently launched the smart for-two electric drive and this year will introduce two Mercedes-Benz electric cars, the B-Class F-CELL with fuel cell technology, and the battery electric A-Class E-CELL. BYD on the other hand inaugurated the e6, a pure electric vehicle and established itself as the first manufacturer in China to commercialize taxi business with its e6.