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Chinese Electric Car Makers
A) SAIC Motor is China’s largest automaker: Electric vehicle (EV) brands: Feifan, IM;
B) Dongfeng is the third largest auto company in China. Electric vehicle (EV) brands: Voyah.
C) BYD Auto Electric vehicle (EV) brands: Dynasty series: Tang, Song, Yuan; Ocean series: Dolphin, Sea Lion, Frigate;
D) Chery Electric vehicle (EV) brands: Cowin, Jetour, Karry.
E) Chang'an Automobile Group is the fourth largest auto company in China. Electric vehicle (EV) brands: Shenlan;
F) GAC Group is the fifth largest auto company in China. Electric vehicle (EV) brands: Aion, Hycan.
G) BAICGroup is the sixth largest auto company in China. Electric vehicle (EV) brands: Arcfox.
H) Geely is the seventh largest auto company in China. Electric vehicle (EV) brands: Geometry, Zeekr;
I) Great Wall Motor Electric vehicle (EV) brand: ORA

Ranking of Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers (plugin EV sales)
Rank — Company — Number of sales (Q1 2022)
1) BYD Auto — 285,849
2) SAIC-GM-Wuling — 114,748
3) SAIC Motor — 55,748
4) Chery Automobile — 52,246
5) GAC Group — 44,989
6) Changan Automobile — 38,686
7) Dongfeng Motor Corporation — 38,089
8) Great Wall Motor — 36,001
9) XPeng — 34,819
10) Geely — 33,069
11) Li Auto — 31,716 [Source: Wikipedia]

In 2021, exports of new energy vehicles, comprising mainly electric and hybrid vehicles, from China soared fourfold to 310,000 units as automakers began to target more developed markets, including Europe. Around half of these were produced at Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory, but domestic startups such as Nio, Li Auto and Xpeng and the more established automakers including SAIC Motor, Geely, Chery and Great Wall are also beginning to take on leading global brands in their own domestic markets. [Source: April 26, 2022]

Reuters reported: EV startups in China proliferated after the government, looking to fuel a more determined switch to electricity as the ultimate alternative to petrol, liberalized and opened its automotive industry to allow deep-pocketed tech firms to invest as long as they dabble in electric cars. Chinese tech giants like Baidu, Alibaba, Xiaomi and Tencent funded more than half a dozen EV start-ups, which include NextEV and CH-Auto. Le Holdings, also known as LeEco and formerly as LeTV, was seen as a promising start up. ,[Source: Norihiko Shirouzu, Reuters, April 20, 2016]

Chinese Electric Cars

Best-selling electric cars in China (as of December 2020)
Automobile name (Manufacturer) — Years sold — Sales volume
1) Roewe Ei5 (SAIC Motor) — 2018–2020 — 254,612
2) BJEV EC series (BAIC Group) — 2017–2020 — 196,966
3) BYD Tang EV (BYD Auto) — 2015–2020 — 164,437
4) Wuling Hongguang Mini EV (SAIC-GM-Wuling) — 2020–2020 — 126,603
5) BJEV EU series — China BJEV — China BAIC Group — 2016-2020 (phased out in 2018) — 126,174

Tiangin-Qinggyuan introduced an all electric Saibao sedan in 2009 that sells for around $30,000. The battery alone makes up about half the cost the same vehicle with a gasoline engine cost around $14,500. Large scale production is expect to reduce the cost of the batteries and motor by 30 to 40 percent. In the early 2010s, Geely's two-seat McCar, Dongfeng's Shuaike microvan, the four-seat M1 REEV from Chery and others promise a range of more than 100 kilometers (60 miles). Most are still in development but some are appearing on China's streets.

An electricity sedan produced by Lujo (Weihai) EV R&D Co. passed a series of European EEC regulations in May, 2010. This electric vehicle (Model: LUJO BB) is the first and the only one in China passed the EEC check with maximum speed 80km. Lujo is a government supported enterprise mainly engaged in manufacturing and assembling electric vehicles and its core parts in China. The company mainly cooperates with customers to convert a target car in China into electric version.

The Qiantu K50 has been dubbed as China’s first supercar — and its an electric one at that. According to Boldride: “It actually looks pretty good on display at the Shanghai Auto Show. The front end is modern and sophisticated, the side profile is unique but nonetheless appealing, and a big wing on the back lays claim to its sporty character. Power comes from an electric motor producing 408 horsepower, and 0-62 mph is estimated in just 5.0 seconds. Power goes straight to the rear wheels, there’s carbon fiber aplenty, and on a single charge, the K50 will last up to 124 miles (200 km). It actually sounds pretty promising, and with a starting price of $113,000, it’s reasonably priced. Though, considering it does come from China, we’ll have to wait and see if those claims actually hold true in the real world. [Source: Jeff Perez, Boldride, April 22, 2015]

Foreign Electric Cars at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show

Clifford Coonan of Associated Press wrote: Electricity is what it’s all about at the Shanghai auto show and the pursuit of the “electric car” (dian che) is all anyone wants to talk about – fossil fuels are not in the mix at all. Petrol is totally unfashionable at the top show in the world’s largest car market, and is only allowed as a term within a press release about a hybrid car. More than 1,000 carmakers are in Shanghai for the show, trying to get their own piece of the electric car market. Two years ago, the event attracted 928,000 guests and it’s likely to do even better this year when it opens to the general public from Friday until April 28th. [Source: Clifford Coonan, Associated Press, April 19, 2017]

“The Shanghai show is exhibiting 1,400 cars, 113 of them making their world debut and 159 of them “green” vehicles, 96 from Chinese companies and 63 from foreign firms. Europe’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen got into the swing of things when it announced the launch its first pure electric car in China in 2018, as Beijing steps up pressure on the industry to promote alternatives to gasoline. Toyota announced that it will begin road testing its fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai, in China in October 2017.

“The luxury market was always the headline-grabber at the Shanghai car show, and the luxury cars are there, but this year hybrids are the main event. GM brought in martial arts movie star Jackie Chan, clad in a stunning white jumpsuit, for the global launch of the Buick Velite 5 plug-in hybrid. Buick is GM’s main brand in China, where GM operates in a joint venture with state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp. GM plans to manufacture and sell a gasoline-electric hybrid version of its Chevrolet Volt in China. “Volvo, the Swedish automaker which is now Chinese-owned, has announced plans to produce a pure electric car in China for sale worldwide starting in 2019.


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BYD Auto is the tenth largest auto company in China and the country's top EV maker . It sold 745,000 vehicles in 2021. BYD is a Shenzhen-based company that became the world’s second largest battery maker in less than a decade. As of early 2009, it had 130,000 employees at seven main facilities in China. Its complex in Shenzhen has a soccer stadium for employee games, an extensive apartment complex for employee’s families, schools for their children and gardens with palm trees. BYD stands for “Build Your dreams.” Domestic EV-only marques: BYD; Foreign-branded Joint ventures: BYD-Toyota, Denza

BYD is an utomobiles and rechargeable battery manufacturer. According to Associated Press: “ BYD Auto Co. is China’s most advanced developer of electric cars. The company was founded in 2003 by engineer Wang Chuanfu, whose BYD Co. is one of the world’s biggest producers of rechargeable batteries for mobile phones and other products. In 2008, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. paid $230 million for 10 percent of the parent BYD Co. Last year, BYD Auto opened a U.S. factory in Lancaster, California, to produce electric buses. BYD should be ideally placed to benefit from the Communist Party’s ambitions to create a Chinese electric car industry but consumer interest is lackluster. [Source: Associated Press, January 13, 2015]

BYD has said it is aiming to bring its “zero emission solutions” to solar collectors and energy storage. “Our vision is not just cars,” founder and CEO Wang Chuanfu told the press at a car show in Detroit. He spoke of the “three green dreams” of “affordable solar power, environmentally-friendly energy storage and electrified transportation powered by clean energy.” According to Wang’s vision solar power will collected from solar farms, solar-shade parking structures and home-mounted solar panels. The energy would then be stored in the company’s “Fe” batteries and used in used BYD’s K9 e-Buses and the e6 sedan.

BYD Surpasses Tesla as World’s Largest EV Seller

In the first haff of 2022, BYD overtook Elon Musk’s Tesla to become the world’s biggest electric vehicle producer based on sales. BYD sold 641,000 new energy vehicles in the first six months of 2022, the company said. That works out to an increase of almost 315 percent year-on-year in the same period in 2021. In June, BYD sold 134,036 new energy vehicles, a year-on-year increase of 162.7 percent. [Source: Al Root, Barron’s, July 5, 2022]

“The performance looks impressive,” wrote Citigroup analyst Jeff Chung. Barron’s reported: By comparison, Tesla delivered almost 565,000 electric vehicles in the first half of the year. In the second quarter, Tesla delivered 254,695 EVs, a drop of 18 percent compared with first quarter deliveries of 310,048. But June was the highest vehicle production month in Tesla’s history, according to the company.

New Energy Vehicles, or NEVs, in China include plug-in hybrid vehicle that have a internal combustion engine as well as a battery pack that can be charged using an external power source. BYD sells both plug-in hybrids as well as all battery-electric vehicle. Tesla only sells battery electric vehicles.

Tesla still has the edge in battery-only cars, but BYD’s growth is accelerating. BYD sold 314,638 plug-in hybrids in the first half of the year, up 454 percent compared the first half of 2021. BYD sold 323,519 battery electric vehicles in the first half of 2022, up 246 percent from the same period a year earlier.

History of BYD

BYD was founded by Wang Chuanfu in 1995 when he was in his early 30s. Wang graduated from Central South University in 1987 and is an expert in materials science. BYD went public on the Hong Kong exchange in 2002. Warren Buffett is among its investors. In September 2008, he purchased a 10 percent stake of the company for $230 million. In 2003, BYD officially entered the auto industry and has manufactured traditional high quality fuel vehicles of different models. It has also manufactured pure electric vehicles and pure electric buses. [Source:, November 23, 2016]

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BYD became the world’s leading small battery company in 2005 and is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of rechargeable batteries. Its batteries are found in cell phones, digital cameras, iPods, electric toothbrushes, vacuum cleaners and a host of other products. At that time BYD was emerging as a leader in the electric car sector. It has built a 1.6-million-square-foot assembly plant and has hired Italian-trained car designers to make plug-in hybrid car that can be charged using an electric outlet at home. The vehicle, the F3DM, can run for at least 100 kilometers on battery power alone, after which a gasoline engine kicks in. The vehicle is powered by an iron-based battery that can be fully recharged on a home socket in seven hours and is said to be able it be recharged over 1,000 times, a high number. When a drivers presses on the gas the car accelerates just like a gasoline-powered car, with enough punch to send the drive pushing back into the seat. The F3DM, a BYD plug-in hybrid, retails for about $20,000, about twice as much as Chinese-made sub-compact car.

BYD participated in the Chinese government project requiring taxi drivers in several Chinese cities to use electric vehicles rather than gasoline-powered ones. According to Reuters the company used the pilot project to gather market feedback and make adjustments to the vehicles before rolling out the electric car nationwide. “We had anticipated a lot of problems early on, but that did not happen and the data we’ve collected are actually better than what we got in lab tests,” Stella Li, senior vice president of BYD, said. [Source: Fang Yan and Don Durfee, Reuters, July 3, 2011]

BYD in the 2010s

In 2010, BYD employed 5,000 auto engineers and an equal number of battery engineers whose salary began at around $600 a month. Assembly line workers were paid between $150 and $300 a month. The company made most of its components itself, an advantage in the car industry. It had the goal of being the largest car maker in China by 2015 and the largest in the world by 2025.

BYD has been pushing more aggressively into clean technologies, from plug-in hybrids to energy storage facilities. In 2011 the company raised $219 million in an I.P.O. in Shenzhen to help finance battery research. BYD hoped to have an electric car ready to sell in the United States in 2012. BYD has made a four-door, all-electric vehicle capable of traveling 300 kilometers on a single charge that can be charged at a charging station in around an hour or in a plug in outlet at home for a longer period of time. The car is capable of going from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 14 seconds.

In the early 2010s, BYD scaled back their ambitions after failing to find a market due to cost and technical concerns. The Economist reported in May 2012: "The main road at the headquarters of BYD seems to go on for ever. It winds from gleaming offices past enormous factories and dormitories to a renewable-energy plant and test track. Visitors can take the E6, the firm's new electric car, for a drive — but try to accelerate and the engineers get nervous. Like the firm, the car is sluggish. BYD was once ballyhooed; Warren Buffett bought some of its stock. But sales are anaemic. BYD's first-quarter 2012 profits plunged by 90 percent from a year ago, to 27 million yuan ($4.3 million). [Source: The Economist, May 5 2012; [Source: Jonathan Watts, The Guardian August 23, 2011]

BYD Cars

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BYD electric vehicle (EV) brands available in the early 2020s included theTang, Song, Yuan in the Dynasty series and the Dolphin, Sea Lion, Frigate in the Ocean series: The BYD Seal received 22,637 pre-orders within just seven hours after its official pre-sale launch in China in May 2022. The car starts at $31,795, after deducting subsidies, and offers a CLTC (China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle) range of 550 kilometers (342 miles). The Long Range versions can go up to 650-700 kilometers (404-435 miles). [Source: Mark Kane, InsideEvs, June 13, 2022]

BYD unveiled it all-electric, five-seat e6 at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2010. It began testing 100 of them as taxis in Shenzhen in June and is hoping to sell the vehicle in the United States by the end of 2010, beginning first in the West Coast where interest in alternative vehicles is high.

In the second half of 2011 BYD sold several hundred of the F3DM plug-in hybrids in China more than any other domestic automaker. At that time its e6 could be seen in showrooms in Beijing and Shenzhen. In 2012, BYD tested its F3DM hybrid in Los Angeles and began marketing its K9 electric bus, BYD's e6 sedan, which promised a 300-kilometer (190-mile) range, was tested in taxi fleets in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen beginning in 2010. The company provided 200 of its electric buses to the Shenzhen public transportation system in 2011.

Germany's Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes Benz cars, is creating a new electric car brand with BYD and plans to launch a model in 2013. Daimler's CEO for Northeast Asia, Ulrich Walker, said it went that route because it wants to create a separate, lower-cost brand, not because of government pressure. At the same time, BYD is developing its own vehicles.

Introducing BYD Electric Buses in the U.S.

In the early 2010s, BYD was considered the world's largest manufacturer of electric buses, which at that time went for about $80,000, over double the cost of a traditional diesel bus. BYD said the long-term savings on fuel and maintenance made it cost effective and competitive. BYD aggressively promoted its electricity buses in the U.S., especially in places like California, where emission standards are strict. [Source: Daniel Hajek, NPR, November 23, 2013]

NPR reported: “At BYD's North American headquarters in Los Angeles, one of the 40-foot electric K9 buses sits on display. BYD Fleet Sales Manager James Holtz sits in the driver's seat and pushes the power button on the dashboard. Unlike a grumbling diesel engine, this electric bus is quiet. Holtz walks out to the rear of the vehicle and opens the back hatch to reveal its electric components. "Because it's non-internal combustion, you don't have the moving parts," says Holtz. "You don't have the belts, you don't have the soot, you don't have all the oil. It's a lot cleaner."

“This bus can run up to 155 miles on a single charge. It's equipped with huge battery packs located inside the bus columns, behind the rear wheels and mounted on top of the bus. "It takes about five hours to fully charge our bus from zero state of charge to 100 percent," says Holtz. At that time BYD had buses running at Denver International Airport and Disneyworld. In 2013, Los Angeles Metro purchased five buses and nearby Long Beach Transit bought 10. Those buses were manufactured in Lancaster, Calif.

Catl: Tesla Supplier and Producer of Two Million-Kilometer Lifespan Battery

Catl is a Chinese car battery-maker and a major supplier of batteries to Tesla. Based in Ningde, Fujian Province, it announced in 2020 it was going to manufacture a battery capable of powering a vehicle for two million kilometers (1.2 million miles) during it 16-year lifespan. By contrast, most automakers only offer warranties ranging from 60,000 to 150,000 miles over a three to eight-year period on their cars' batteries. [Source: BBC, June 9, 2020]

Catl's chairman Zeng Yuqun told Bloomberg: "If someone places an order, we are ready to produce" it, adding it would cost 10 percent premium over the batteries it already supplies. The company signed a two-year deal to supply batteries for Tesla's Model 3 cars in February 2020. Its other clients include BMW, Daimler, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

The BBC reported: “Catl has grown into being the world's top-selling car battery-maker since being established in 2011. The research firm Canalys said that Catl's claim was "significant but difficult to verify"."It is likely to be used as a differentiator by some car-makers when there is a significant difference from one vehicle to another — dramatically affecting resale value," said Canalys's chief automotive analyst Chris Jones.

Image Sources: BYD, Wiki Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated July 2022

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