The Chinese electrified car manufacturer that counts Warren Buffet as a key investor, and which led Tesla in sales last year, delivered its 50,000th Qin plug-in hybrid as quickly as it took the Chevy Volt.
This was accomplished last month for the PHEV that was launched a couple years after the Volt, but whose first two-and-a-half years’ of global sales have about matched those of General Motors’ Chevrolet and Holden Volt, and Volt-based Opel/Vauxhall Ampera.
The Qin is rated in its home market to have a Volt-competitive 43 miles electric range, and was the first of the Chinese automaker’s “super-electric” vehicles. While the range estimate may be optimistic for its 13-kWh battery if scrutinized under U.S. regulatory tests, the car boasts also a 0-60 time of less than 5.9 seconds. According to the Chinese test cycle, the Qin gets “147 mpg” or 1.6 liters per 100 kilometer.
If you’ve not yet heard of it, that could be because BYD cars are not sold to consumers in the U.S., though without our market’s help, last year BYD sold almost 62,000 vehicles compared to Tesla’s almost 51,000, meaning it was the world’s largest electrified vehicle seller.
Launched in Costa Rica in November 2013, the Qin hit the ground running with sales primarily in the Chinese market where it was released a month later.
China’s plug-in market was itself lagging at that time, but as a whole China has seen four-times growth year over year for the last two years straight. The Qin is today still mainly sold in Latin America and China, and its 50,000th global sale occurred in April, after its 29th month on the market.
The Volt was launched Dec. 2010 in the U.S., sold its 50,000th in the U.S. 34 months later in Oct. 2013, and it’s estimated that globally its 50,000th came around the 29th or 30th month.
Though BYDs are not sold in the U.S., the company did open a Los Angeles based North American headquarters in 2011.
BYD was given fame early on when Warren Buffett bought a 10-percent share in it the decade prior, but in 2011, the company laid off thousands of employees and faced numerous “potholes” in its auto and mobile phone business.
It has and continues to face hurdles, but is making progress with an eye toward entering the U.S. market in full. Presently in the U.S. it is proffering electric buses, and has certified its E6 all-electric SUV it says get 186 mile on a charge but which the EPA says is good for 127. A handful of these have gone to fleet and taxi use.
Last June we reported the Qin’s 25,000th sale, which took 19 months, so doubling that just 10 months later, the Qin is mirroring the Chinese plug-in market and accelerating,
In the cumulative total race, other plug-ins – most of them launched earlier – actually have topped 100,000 sales, meaning the Qin is a bit of a second-tier plug-in on that score.
Vehicles that have surpassed 100,000 include the Nissan Leaf (almost 220,000), Tesla Model S (about 120,000), Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (102,00), and the aforementioned Volt family (over 110,000). The Toyota Prius PHV has sold more than 75,000 but its sales are slowed until the new 2017 Prius Prime is released.
Other plug-ins tagging along with the Qin include the Renault Zoe with 47,083 sold, and the BMW i3, with 47,438.
Both these will likely be at 50,000 by next month, and the i3 is expected to get a boost when a revised model with longer range comes along this summer.
There was a rumor as recently as March the BYD Qin could come to the U.S., but no explicit plans have been announced by the company which has otherwise said it would like to do it.
If such a car were be sold here, it would be welcomed by many enthusiasts who do know of it, such as those at CleanTechnica, although what its EPA range would be is uncertain.
Even if its “43” miles is overestimated, it likely would be respectable under the U.S. cycle, beating other plug-in hybrids like the 27-mile Hyundai/Kia PHEV sedans, and 19-mile Ford Fusion Energi.
Power also would be superior from its 1.5-liter twin-turbocharged direct-injected four plus 110 kilowatt (148 horsepower) electric motor all routed through a dual clutch transmission.
To make the point of how quick it is, the automaker has prepped it for a professional rally race, and even staged drag races with nine well-known performance oriented cars. While it was not up to embarrassing the likes of a Nissan GT-R, it held its own among another fairly quick vehicles.
Not shy therefore, it’s being viewed as probably a matter of time before BYD enters the U.S. consumer market.
In an interview with Autoblog, BYD America Vice President Michael Austin cited holdbacks.
“Right now, we really don’t have parts and distribution or consumer warranty service, and we don’t have a dealer network,” said Austin. “It’s easier to service fleets.”
The company is working toward it however, and Austin said if the Qin does make it here here, he thought it would indeed do well.
“All I can say is that we’re absolutely committed to bringing our fantastic design to the U.S.,” said Austin, noting the Qin’s 0-to-60 time is in “about 5″ seconds. “If I brought that model to the U.S., it’d be a game-changer.”
Thanks to Mario R. Duran for help with data.