While most Americans have never even heard of the Chinese company BYD, it is a company with plans to make a big impression on the auto industry. What started off as a young man’s fascination with batteries in 1995 has grown to be one of the leading manufacturers of rechargeable batteries. BYD Company Ltd is headquartered in China’s largest and fastest growing city, Shenzhen which sits just north of Hong Kong. The company began in 1995 when twenty-nine year old chemist and government researcher, Wang Chuan Fu, started a rechargeable battery company. He received an initial investment of $300,000 from relatives for the company’s start-up. Despite being raised by siblings after his parents’ death, Wang Chuan Fu rose to rank number 559 on the 2009 Fortune’s World Billionaires List. His net worth is reported at $1.3 billion. Wang studied battery technology at Beijing’s Non-Ferrous Research Institute. He wanted to design superior rechargeable batteries to replace poor quality imports. He studied the Japanese imports by dissecting and studying Sony’s and Sanyo’s battery patents. Both Sony and Sanyo unsuccessfully sued BYD for patent infringement. BYD improved the quality of rechargeable lithium batteries. Unlike its major competitors, BYD’s battery products have never been recalled for safety problems. Although Sony currently controls the largest share of the consumer battery market, BYD is a major provider of batteries for many Motorola and Apple phones and electronics. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries contain more power than other batteries of comparable size. They are used in most consumer products like cell phones and laptops. BYD R&D teams are researching lithium ion batteries that steam instead of explodes when they overheat. Another R&D project combines solar power to recharge batteries. Without having any automobile manufacturing experience, Wang Chuan Fu purchased Tsinchuan Automotive Company in 2003. The acquisition of the defunct Chinese state owned car company created BYD Auto Company LTD and focused on creating limited gasoline powered vehicles that use batteries such as hybrids and electric vehicles. Why Electric?
Emissions from automobiles are a major contributor to Global Warming, and many organizations are working diligently to provide viable transportation solutions. BYD has produced 2 options that are offered in China: hybrids/dual mode and electric vehicles called F3DM and e6, respectively. In traditional vehicles, the fuel tank supplies gasoline to the engine which turns the transmission and wheels. In contrast, an electric car uses a set of rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries that provides electricity to its small electric motor. The motor in turn powers the transmission and wheels, providing force and no emissions. Unlike gas-powered cars, EVs have no transmission, internal combustible engine or engine parts (i.e. spark plugs, valves, fuel tank, tailpipe, distributor, starter, clutch, muffler or catalytic converter). Instead, EVs uses wires to connect the electric motor, controller, and rechargeable batteries. A hybrid car uses both electricity and gasoline to power its motor. It has a battery-powered electric motor that assists the engine when accelerating, and an energy-recovery system from braking that charges the battery. Its engine is smaller, and the battery is larger to hold more energy than the traditional gas powered vehicles. Hybrids significantly increase the mileage and reduce the emissions of a gas-powered car while overcoming the shortcomings of an electric car. Are Electric Cars a Viable Option?
There are several major hurdles to overcome before electric vehicles are truly viable alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles. Due to the frequent need for batteries to be recharged, electric vehicles are only useful for travelling short distances. Research continues and several companies are currently producing recharging options for EV owners. They include attached and...
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