BYD launch world's first production plug in hybrid

December 16, 2008 The world's first mass-produced plug in hybrid and the world's first production series hybrid went on sale this week in China. On Monday, a company best known for making cell-phone batteries has begun selling its F3DM — China's first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle. The car is expected to retail for around US$20,000 (AUD$29,800) in China, and make its way to the U.S. in 2011.

BYD, short for Build Your Dream, in which Warren Buffett bought a 10% share only 3 months ago for $232 Million, is the world's leading producer of rechargeable batteries for mobile phones and laptops, among other products. BYD got into the car market in 2003, and the F3DM is a modified version of its petrol-powered F3 model. The DM in the name stands for dual-mode, reflecting its ability to operate in both full-electric and series hybrid modes. The conventional F3 (which looks like a Toyota Corolla replica) sells for about US$14,000 fully loaded, and its sales were up 36% this year through October. China's overall car sales have fallen in three of the last four months.

Worlds 1st Li-ion plug in series hybrid

The F3DM uses BYD's self-developed iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries, which the company said could be recharged more than 2,000 times. Charge time with a standard 220V 10A wall socket is 7 hours while using a high powered charger 3 hours full charge is possible. Due to the characteristics of iron-phosphate li-ion batteries which have very high charge and discharge rates it is possible to half charge the battery is as little as 10 minutes or 80% in 15 mins.

In EV mode the car can travel as far as 100 km (62 miles) on a single charge, compared to 64km (40 miles) for the Volt or just 25 km (15 miles) for the Prius. For range beyond 100km a small 1.0 litre petrol engine (GM Volt has 1.4 litre) will recharge the battery in series hybrid mode and extend the range of the car. As the F3DM is a series hybrid, the wheels are always driven by the electric motor which has 405Nm (300ft/lb) of torque with full torque available from zero rpm. The electric motor can be used as a generator for regenerative braking which re-collects kinetic energy used to accelerate the vehicle for storage in the battery and can greatly extends EV mode range.

electrification of the automobile

While BYD have now successfully launched the worlds first plug in hybrid in 2008, General Motors have announced an expected launch date of late 2010. Toyota also plan to have the plug in version of the Prius ready by 2010. The electrification of the automobile represents the biggest auto manufacturing realignment since WW11. The move to electric vehicles offers an opportunity for the worlds leading battery makers to get into the auto business much in the same way leading automakers are getting into the battery business via joint ventures. A large slice of the future profits in the auto business will be in battery production and not in the manufacture of heavy cast iron engine and transmission components as it is today.

$1.20 per 100km ($0.02 per mile)

BYD have several other EVs in the pipeline including the F3e, an EV only version of the F3DM which has a top speed of 150km, can do 0-100km (62 miles) in 13.5 with a range of 300kms (186 miles). The F3e has the same iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries capable of 2000 cycles which allows the batteries to last for over 600,000kms (375,000 miles). The F3e consumes 12kw/hr per 100km (193wh/mile) so at an average utility price of $0.10 per kw/hr the F3e costs just $1.20 per 100km ($0.02 per mile). BYD use the same 36kw/hr battery pack in another model called the E6 which has a striking resemblance to the Honda Odyssey. The E6 seats 5 and is capable of 0-100km in 9.2 seconds and has all wheel drive thanks to separate electric motors for the front and rear axles. The front motor has 160Kw / 450Nm and the rear motor 40Kw / 100Nm each with a single speed gearing of 6.8:1 giving a top speed of 185km/h and a range of 300km (186 miles). BYD also have the F6DM near release that is a larger 4 door sedan than the F3.

Paul Evans

Image via: Treehugger.

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