I’m not that inspired by the name of this car but as the worlds first commercial plug-in hybrid the F3DM manufactured by BYD in China does manage to make history. With a range of 109 km running on battery power only (before the internal combustion engine is needed) it promises to be a smog buster. It seems to use an existing Lithium battery technology (Lithium iron phosphate battery) which bodes well for the plug-in genre because there is arguably much better battery technology coming through the commercialisation pipeline (eg Eestor and also the Nanowire battery). The BYD F3DM went on sale in China this month (December 2008) with a price tag equivalent to US$21k. Warren Buffet has bought $230 million worth of stock in the company.

This doesn’t have much to do with freedom but I thought it might appeal to those here interested in the global warming debate and proposed technological solutions. Personally I think that plug-in hybrid vehicles have a bright future as the price and quality of batteries continue to improve. I think this is true irrespective of whether governments offer financial and regulatory support and irrespective of whether AGW is real or otherwise. I expect plug-in hybrids to be entering the mainstream in less than ten years. The F3DM suggests that perhaps I’m being a pessimist.

7 thoughts on “BYD F3DM

  1. Ten years is way too long now that the Chinese are making it. If they can’t make it cheap enough to gain mass acceptance (and $21K is still way too expensive), they’ll find a few more Falun Gong to use as slave labour. There’s the link to freedom.

    But I agree plug-in electric cars have a bright future. I expect there will be two types – those without a petrol engine, used in metro areas – and those with a petrol engine that can be used for long distance trips.

  2. In terms of cars the Chinese don’t have much share of the mass market outside of China. For them to make a significant impact within a decade not only would they have to innovate in technological terms they would also need a massive marketing push. I expect that plug-in hybrid vehicles will make their way into the mass markets in the USA and Europe mostly via familiar brand names. That does not mean the Chinese won’t play a part. And of course the growing market within China itself should not be ignored.

    Personally I don’t see a huge future for all-electric metro vehicles in the next decade. Most people want to make a long trip once in a while and they don’t want to own a separate vehicle for the occasion. Also there are times when you won’t want to wait for an extended battery charge process. Hybrids deal with the issue of range and recharge / refuel times. Of course some really high energy content battery with a super fast charge process may come along. However you won’t be charging any such beast from a standard household GPO.

  3. 109 kms is enough to cover at least a one way city commute and a fair chunk of the way home again. Even if only 1 in every 1000 people drive this thing it’s still less people heading to the bowser every day and leaving more for the rest of us

  4. In terms of cars the Chinese don’t have much share of the mass market outside of China.

    I agree the Chinese owned car companies are minor outside China (although Chery is apparently coming to Australia in 2009), but most of the big brands are already making cars in China and exporting around the region. Volkswagen is exporting big numbers, I understand.

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