Blog: BYD's 'iron battery'
Dave Leggett | 21 November 2007
I'm in Barcelona at the IESE Business School's automotive conference. Conferences are always good opportunities to get your grey cells exercised and find out what everyone's talking about. If you're lucky, you maybe hear something that you haven't heard before.
One thing I heard today in a presentation from Wayne Xing (editor of China Automotive Review) struck me as amazing. He talked about the emergence of the new private car firms in China - fast rising guys like Chery, Geely and Great Wall. Yep, they're going from strength to strength on the back of products that are getting better and are also cheap (well, they sometimes don't have to incur product development costs...). But what about BYD (great tagline: Build Your Dreams)?
The company has just declared that it will be the world's biggest automaker by 2025. Xing says BYD has already come from nowhere to be the world's second biggest maker of batteries - produces one million lithium batteries a day - and is firmly focussed on electric cars.
The company reckons it is on to a winner with something called the 'iron battery' - a high performance battery made from iron and silicon and claims it will be in its 'E6' model by 2009. Bluster or not, the claims that BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu is making ought to be attracting attention. His company is making cars and it is also making a lot of batteries (there's also an interesting low-cost semi-automated production system - a kind of TPS with a labour-intensive twist). Cars and batteries - not a bad synergy is it?
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...