China Set to Launch Plug-In Hybrid Two Years Before Chevy’s Volt

Chinese auto manufacturer BYD Auto has announced plans that it will show a production version of the company’s first plug-in electric hybrid, called the F3DM. What’s most shocking though, is that it is able to put its car on the market a full two years ahead of General Motor’s Volt project.

The F3DM uses an electric motor combined with a small gasoline engine to supplement the on board battery packs. According to the manufacturer, the F3DM can run up to 60 miles in pure electric mode with just a single charge. The vehicles can be charged through a normal wall-mounted power socket. A "quick charged" feature allows the driver to replenish the batteries to up to 80 percent capacity in about 15 minutes.


Impressive as all this sounds, it all gets overlooked once you glance over at the F3DM. The car’s body is an obvious rip-off of a Toyota Corolla. The F3DM continues the horrible Chinese tradition of blatantly copying other manufacturers’ designs, or joining two different designs together, usually with horribly tacky consequences. Doing stuff like this makes it hard to take a company seriously.

Still, even with the knock-off Corolla body, if BYD can successfully market and sell these, it would be a kick in the face for GM. Billionaire Warren Buffet has also shown interest in the Chinese automaker. His company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway, invested $230 million in September to acquire a 9.9 percent stake in BYD. Maybe Warren knows something we don’t.

Source: Inside Line 

Photo: BYD Auto