Daimler, China's BYD partnering on electric cars

German automaker and China's leading battery manufacturer announce joint venture to create new brand of electric cars.

BYD's all-electric e6 is already sold to Chinese government fleets. There are plans to target the U.S. market by the end of 2010.

Daimler announced Thursday it's partnering with leading Chinese battery manufacturer BYD to produce electric cars under a new brand name.

The two companies have formed a 50-50 joint venture called Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. and plan to invest a total of 600 million yuan (over $80 million) to develop an electric car directed at the Chinese market.

Daimler said in a statement they plan to share technology to capitalize on Daimler's automotive vehicle architecture expertise alongside BYD's know-how with regard to batteries and electric drive trains. Daimler, as it's well-known, already makes the all-electric Smart car.

The Chinese all-electric vehicle under development will be sold under a completely new brand name that will be owned by the Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. joint venture, according to Daimler.

BYD may be a battery manufacturer, but the company has also been selling cars in China since 2003. Most notable is BYD's e6, a mass-produced all-electric vehicle that has primarily been sold to Chinese government fleets. BYD announced earlier this month that it is making plans to sell the e6 to U.S. consumers by the end of 2010.

The Chinese company gained notice in the U.S. in September 2008 after Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett announced his subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company had bought $230 million worth of stock in BYD, giving it a 10 percent stake. BYD gained further notice in December 2008 with its release of the F3DM, a plug-in electric hybrid. In April, BYD also announced it would be getting into the home energy market.

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