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Buffett-backed EV car maker set to enter U.S. in '12

BYD, the Chinese car maker backed by investor Warren Buffett, plans to enter the mass U.S. auto market with its e6 electric model in about a year.

BYD, a Chinese car and battery maker backed by investor Warren Buffett, expects to enter the mass U.S. auto market in the first quarter of 2012, starting with its e6 all-electric car model, its chairman said yesterday.

"The United States offers a huge opportunity for new-energy vehicles, especially pure electric," Chairman Wang Chuanfu told Reuters in an interview at the Detroit auto show.

"Many auto companies will pay attention to this market, and BYD will take this opportunity as well," he said through a translator, adding he wants BYD to lead in the field of electric cars and buses in the world's second-biggest auto market.

BYD's all-electric e6 BYD

"Our strategy in the U.S. market will probably focus on the pure electric segment," he said.

In its fourth consecutive appearance at the Detroit auto show, BYD is showcasing a series of electric vehicles, including the e6 and S6DM models, and other products such as solar panels and home energy storage units.

Wang said that while BYD has yet to work out in which U.S. cities and states to set up dealerships first, he expected to begin selling the zero-emission e6 as its first model in the first quarter of next year, followed by the S6DM, and eventually electric buses.

The company will work with independent dealers to set up a sales network in the United States.

BYD began pilot sales in Los Angeles at the end of 2010, and Wang said he hoped to expand test-marketing over the coming year.

The company has said it expects the e6 to cost around $42,000, meaning it would likely need subsidies and other incentives to appeal to consumers.