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World's First DM Electric Car Faces Dilemmas

Updated:2009-04-14 09:29:47

The chances of the world's first compact battery operated sedan, which is not reliant on charging stations, seems still a long way off. The new-style vehicle, named F3DM and produced by Shenzhen-based BYD Auto, has sold only 80 units since its launch last December.

Auto Biz Review says twenty of these vehicles were purchased by the Shenzhen government, while those left are being used by China Construction Bank's Shenzhen branch.

Such group users were targeted in F3DM's preliminary sales plan, the president of BYD Auto Wang Chuanfu confessed, claiming they are insensitive to the vehicle's high label price of 149,800 yuan, or 21,917 U.S. dollars.

Group orders, however, did not come in a continuous stream after the eco-car's initial promotion.

Previous reports say the Shenzhen government has decided to add the F3DM to the city's cab purchase orders but a recent comment in Auto Biz Review revealed that relevant talks have run into a deadlock due to 'certain reasons.'

In terms of the individual consumers' market, F3DM will definitely have a dim future if the price remains unchanged.

Cheaper prices are in fact expected as BYD plans to lower its cost through producing a larger number of dual mode vehicles. Wang Chuanfu says it's possible the car will cost only 109,800 yuan by then, a competitive price for individual buyers. But when? Nobody can tell.

Apart from the high price, BYD further confessed that the lack of charging stations for F3DM's, no favourable policies in the new field and also a stagnant auto market have all made F3DM difficult for further expansion.

Also as the world's second largest producer of rechargeable batteries, BYD, backed by U.S. investor Warren Buffett, has been leading domestic electric car research relying on its battery businesses. But insiders with the Auto Biz Review say it's the battery itself which makes BYD reluctant to open F3DM to individuals.

Moreover, battery charging will take nine hours if using a household power supply. This time-consuming problem could cause buyers to think again.

Battery quality is also a concern. According to sources, the Fe battery groups usually see high defective rates since it is difficult to ensure all the batteries are produced using the same procedure and the same materials.

Although BYD claimed that their F3DM's can travel 100 km purely on battery, doubts have also been raised, saying the announced coverage figure is based on the test at a constant low speed of 50km/h and such batteries can not support them in daily use.

Battery reclaim is another problem. According to BYD, their batteries used on F3DM's can be charged at least 2,000 times. However, no detailed and proper plan has so far been announced on the battery reclaim.

For BYD, more efforts are needed to improve battery performance and other techniques. Nevertheless, the launch of the BYD F3DM is an undeniable encouragement for the future of electric cars, since it will accelerate the development of supporting facilities which of course is vital for the prevalence of this type of vehicle.

Source: CRIENGLISH. com

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