Chinese carmaker BYD seeks to test-market an all-electric battery car in the U.S. in 2011, the Wall Street Journal reports. This model had appeared at the Detroit Auto Show in January and had been expected to arrive in the U.S. this year; however, the project was set back by a year due to technical problems.
This delay is a huge blow to China's auto sector, which is hoping to catch up to the global manufacturers.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Stella Li, BYD's senior vice president and head of its U.S. operations, said that these setbacks were a result of BYD's intentions to widen the space in the back where big battery packs are expected to occupy.
BYD hopes that by the end of 2011, it will be able to ship up to 50 E6 electric cars to fleet customers in Southern California, including the municipal government of Los Angeles.
A few months ago, BYD started sales of its E6s to Chinese taxi firms in Shenzhen. At the same time, it was gathering field data to improve the car. In addition, BYD is involved in supplying all-electric buses to Los Angeles.
Li said that the initial plan would be to have e-buses shipped from China, but that later, production would have to be localized. By the second quarter of 2011, one bus (a demonstration vehicle) will be shipped to LA for testing.
Austin Beutner, Los Angeles’ deputy mayor, said that policy is now focused on electric cars but that in the future, there may be a tilt “toward public transportation.” [via autonews - sub. required]