Battery maker plans electric cars

Shenzhen-based top battery maker BYD Co Ltd said it has made substantial progress in the research of electric cars; and that the first 200 units will go on trial as taxis in the first quarter of 2004.

"We have made a breakthrough in the quality and functions of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for electric cars; a maximum speed of 125 kilometre/hour could be realized and every recharge could support another 400-kilometre drive," Chairman Wang Chuanfu said at a recent forum.

Co-sponsored by the local government, the environmentally-friendly project will mark the introduction of BYD's electric cars in the local market, to be followed by Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi'an.

BYD, which aims to become the world's largest maker of portable rechargeable batteries in the next three years, tapped China's fast-growing car market in January by acquiring a 77-per-cent stake in a State-owned car maker in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province for 269 million yuan (US$32.41 million).

The company has co-operated with several world-renowned companies such as Motorola, Delphi and Autoliv to form an international research and development team for the new BYD auto.

According to Wang, BYD has designed four models, of which the 1.6-litre BYD316 will make its debut in the first quarter of next year.

The acquisition also provided a platform for BYD to carry out research into developing energy-saving and clean electric cars.

The company has obtained 1,500 mu (100 hectares) in Xi'an High-tech Industrial Park and plans to invest some 2 billion yuan (US$240 million) to set up a production plant there in five years, said Wang.

Upon completion, the production capacity could reach 200,000 units a year, or the largest plant for family sedans and electric cars in western China.

People's Daily Online ---