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Ambitious BYD inks Battery Car Deal With Daimler

Could appear on the streets by 2013.

by on Mar.02, 2010

BYD is ready to launch the new e6 battery car, and will form a new joint venture with Daimler.

The upstart Chinese car manufacturer BYD is nothing if no ambitious, and it’s willing to take some significant steps to ensure that it can become one of the world’s leading auto companies, including signing up partners such as Volkswagen and, now, Daimler AG.

Short for Build Your Dreams, it remains to be seen if BYD is only dreaming as it lays out a goal to be the number one maker in Asia, by 2013, and world’s biggest by 2020. But, apparently, Daimler AG thinks it may be onto something.

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On the eve of the annual Geneva Motor Show, the Chinese maker signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, with Daimler to form a technology partnership with two key goals. The first is to develop a new electric vehicle for the booming Chinese market, and the second is to establish a new brand that the two makers will jointly operate. BYD will also establish a technology center in China for developing, designing and testing the new battery car.

“With this announcement, we have created a win-win business model with complimentary competences,” declared BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu – showing that business clichés know no language barrier.

For his part, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche described as “absolutely essential” the development of electric propulsion technology for the Chinese market which, in 2009, surged ahead of the United States, becoming the largest national auto market in the world.  Continuing that growth is “not do-able,” Zetsche said in an interview, relying solely on fossil-based fuels.

Originally starting out as a battery maker – it remains the largest source in the world for lithium-ion technology used in cellphone and other consumer devices — BYD has been developing battery technology since 1995, but in a surprise move entered the automotive business in 2003.

Beyond the Daimler joint venture, the maker had plenty of news for the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, including the unveiling of the e6, the Chinese maker’s own battery-electric vehicle.  It is due to arrive soon on the Chinese market and will go on sale in Europe in 2011.

The e6 will offer a choice of two variants, one with 75 kW and 450 Nm of torque, power channeled through the front wheels; the other boasting more performance, as well as all-wheel-drive.

The ability to get a 50% quick charge, BYD officials claim, will take just 10 minutes and the lithium-ion battery pack can be recharged up to 2,000 times, good for a 10 year life-span. The chemicals used in the batteries are one hundred percent recyclable.

For the upcoming pure electric vehicle that BYD and Daimler plan to develop, the basic architecture will come from the Germans. The parent of both Mercedes-Benz and Smart, Daimler launched the electric drive system for its little two-seater and is planning to introduce battery-electric versions of several of its Mercedes model, including the A-Class.

The German maker also brought several advanced propulsion systems to the Geneva Motor Show, including a new E-Class hybrid and a prototype battery-electric model, the F800.

BYD, by the way, has a separate deal under development with another German maker, but that venture — still under development — involves only the provision of batteries to Volkswagen AG.

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