There has been a lot of buzz and talk about Apple making an electric car and getting to market in the next 5 years. While everyone is focused on the big brand names, the Chinese alphabet companies are slowly rising in the electric vehicle market. Everyone knows Elon Musk and immediately ties him to the Tesla, but what most people don't realize is that BYD and other Chinese car makers are also backed by big names like Warren Buffet.
When Elon Musk heard mention of BYD from a Bloomberg reporter in 2014, he laughed and said "I don't think they have a great product." He may have been laughing at the time but Warren Buffet backed BYD is growing. In the latest reports from China, BYD has sold a little over 1900 of their Qin plug-in hybrid and over 400 of their E6 all-electric vehicle just for the month of January. In comparison, according to cleantechnica.com, Tesla sold only 1500 of their Model S in January. Tesla is also trying to get in on the Chinese market but has had poor sales in that area, selling only 120 cars in January inside China. There are reports that Musk is threatening to fire his China based executives due to the poor sales figures and not reaching the goal of matching US sales by this year.
Tesla and BYD have not come to a head yet but BYD is expanding globally and has previously hinted at creating a luxury sedan. The word around BYD is that they are waiting for Tesla to warm up the Chinese luxury electric market before they put their own model out. BYD has sold a great deal of its E6 electric sedan for taxi duty and shown up in cities from Hong Kong to London. BYD is also expanding into other areas, especially public transportation and in April of last year they delivered their first electric bus in the US to the city of Lancaster, California.
BYD looks at themselves as the academics of the electric car movement while Tesla is the rockstar and due to their origins as a battery company are doing lots of research and bring cars for the middle class to the market without sacrificing quality. Tesla new battery factory in Nevada was huge news but BYD was already ahead when they started construction of their new 6.5 gigawatt-hours facility in 2014. Chinese car companies are still looked at in a low light but they are improving greatly and in a few years may be the new Kia's and Hyundai's in the US.