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BYD shocks Detroit. Image by Kyle Fortune.

BYD shocks Detroit
Virtually unknown Chinese maker BYD Auto trumps the big players with a pair of world-beating green cars.


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The cynic will say that the fervid propagation of alternative propulsion methods in Detroit this week has as much to do with reviving a slumping car market than actually saving the planet. But whatever it's for, it's surely to everyone's benefit that viable electric propulsion is finally getting closer after years of rhetoric and futurism.

So how annoyed must the big makers be that a Chinese upstart - whose name is an acronym for 'Build Your Dreams' - has rocked up to Detroit with a pair of electric cars to apparently beat anything they've come up with? And it's hell bent on becoming the world's largest car manufacturer.

Firstly the BYD F6 DM saloon, an all-electric saloon that BYD claims trumps everything else thanks to a combination of size and range. The car's 'Fe' battery - built in-house - allows the family saloon to travel 249-miles on a full charge. Amazingly, a 50 percent recharge is possible in just 10-minutes, with the next half taking an hour. The battery is completely recyclable, too, and the e6 will hit 60mph in under eight seconds thanks to 406lb.ft of torque.

Then there's the e6. It's a plug-in dual-mode hybrid (the world's first, apparently) that sucks energy from a lightweight, recyclable lithium-ion phosphate battery containing no heavy metals, and which can charge in ten minutes at special charging points. It's a pretty standard hybrid drivetrain, other than the quick charging bit, that uses a 120kW (over 160bhp) electric motor allowing the car to go 62-miles in electric mode on a charge (22-miles more than the Chevy Volt), but with a range of 267-miles when the petrol engine kicks in (significantly less than the Chevy).

Interestingly, BYD Company Limited is already the second largest maker of mobile phone batteries in the world, and it's really the recyclable battery technology that's so important in these car, rather than unproven stats. BYD has not confirmed whether its cars will make it across to Europe, or indeed America, as yet - though you'd expect it will, given its world domination remit.

Mark Nichol - 13 Jan 2009

2009 BYD e6. Image by Kyle Fortune.2009 BYD e6. Image by Kyle Fortune.   

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