BYD is China's largest battery maker. Chances are, if you have a cellphone or a mp3 player, you have one of their products. The company is getting into the auto world, a move that only a few years ago would have seemed illogical, but now that the future will probably go to plug-in hybrids and electric cars, being good with batteries has become a key expertise to have when making cars (we're sure GM would agree - it is mostly batteries that are holding back the Volt).

BYD's first plug-in hybrid for the Chinese market will be the F6DM mid-sized sedan in the second half of 2008. Top speed should be 100 mph (160 kph), with a range of 62 miles (100 km) in all-electric mode and 267 miles (430 km) total after the gas engine kicks in. A fully electric version called the F6E is planned for 2009.

F6 is the name of the sedan, "DM" is for Dual Mode hybrid, and "E" is for Electric.

What makes the F6DM and F6E special is the battery pack: the lithium iron phosphate battery is said to be safer, less expensive, without heavy metals, completely recyclable and should be rechargeable to 70% in 10-minute at special charging stations. It can also be recharged more slowly with a home charging station, of course.

So if all goes according to plan, it seems like BYD will beat GM's Volt as the first production plug-in hybrid, though they have no plans yet to sell the F6DM outside China (this will surely depend on how successful the car is at home).

But even if the car isn't sold in the rest of the world at first, its technology will certainly inspire and influence other carmakers and speed up the transition to plug-in hybrids and electric cars.


A little while ago, we wrote about the BYD F6DM, what might turn out to be the first plug-in hybrid car on the market. There's no doubt that BYD (aka Build Your Dreams) has a certain advantage over other companies that are trying to bring a plug-in (or electric car) to market: They are China's biggest battery maker, and number two worldwide.

And they are very hungry. Already we learn that the F6DM will be followed by the smaller and less expensive F3DM (pictured above). If the F6DM is close to a Camry, the F3DM is very similar to a Corolla.
We don't yet know the specs of the car or the target price, but if BYD's claims about its batteries are true, it could be a game-changer:

The F3DM uses BYD's self-developed iron batteries, which the company said could be recharged for more than 2,000 times and can power the car to run over 600,000 miles. The car equipped with BYD's batteries can travel as long as 100 miles after one charge, much longer than the 25-mile duel model vehicles offered by other automakers.

The 100 miles per charge is for electric-mode only. If you need to drive more than that distance, a small gasoline engine (a 1.0 liter in the F6DM, not sure yet about the F3DM) will recharge the battery and extend the range of the car. But since most people drive a lot less than 100 miles per day, this generator would be needed very little, meaning very low emissions.

Wang Chaunfu, BYD’s Chairman, also said that he plans to introduce a dual mode sedan (probably the F6DM first) in Europe within 2-3 years.

BYD says the F3DM has a range of 100 km (62 miles) on battery power alone with a top speed of 160 kph (99 mph). The 330V, 40 Ah Li-ion pack has life of more than 2,000 cycles, according to BYD Auto. On a household 220V power supply, a full recharge takes 8 to 9 hours. 

The DM powertrain incorporates BYD’s own 50 kW 3-cylinder, 1.0-liter BYD371QA aluminum engine, and has a combined maximum output of 125 kW.

BYD Auto says it plans to begin production of all-electric vehicles in 2009.


Fisker Automotive is taking a novel approach to merging beauty and style with an environmental conscience. The car features cutting-edge plug-in hybrid technology, penned as Q DRIVE, developed by Quantum Technologies exclusively for Fisker Automotive. The Karma's Q DRIVE configuration consists of a small gasoline engine that turns the generator, which charges the lithium ion battery pack, powering the electric motor and turning the rear wheels. 
On styling alone, the $87,900 Karma seems a steal.
This proprietary design allows consumers' to drive the car emission free for up to 50 miles (80km) a day provided the car is charged every evening. It's conceivable that if consumers follow this daily routine, they will only need to fuel the car but once a year. This means it will not only cut down on pollution and global warming, but on a consumer's gasoline budget as well. This Q DRIVE technology will provide a base for all future derivatives from Fisker Automotive. 

The Fisker Karma will offer partly self-contained climate control, as consumers will have the option to purchase a full-length solar roof that will help charge the car and provide cooling for the interior cabin while the car is parked. Additionally, Fisker Automotive will offer consumers an option to purchase a set of solar panels for their roofs or garages where they can generate electricity during the day to charge the car overnight…again cost and emission free. 

Statistics show that the majority of pollution from automobiles occurs on consumers' daily commute to and from work or dropping the kids off at school. Currently, more than 60% of Americans and Europeans are driving less than 50 miles (80km) on their daily commute. If this 60% of commuters would drive a plug-in hybrid like the Fisker Karma, we could see the fastest possible reduction both in oil consumption and emissions - all without sacrificing their daily driving habits. Additionally, plug-in hybrids have the potential to augment the planning of cleaner electrical power plants, ultimately producing a dramatic effect on our society and future generations.
The Fisker name has attracted and attained worldwide brand recognition, thanks to years of first-class automotive designs. Over his 18 years in the car design business, Henrik Fisker has left his thumbprint on some of the most highly regarded automobiles. His creations range from the BMW Z8, Aston Martin DB9 & V8 Vantage to his most recent creations – the Tramonto and Latigo CS, designed under the Fisker Coachbuild nameplate. 

With the launch of Fisker Automotive, Fisker was inspired to keep the excitement alive in car design. This time a new element was considered in the overall design – to deliver a beautiful car that makes environmental sense. Environmentally friendly, plug-in hybrid cars don’t have to be bland in design. The focus was to creating a design which delivers the ECO-CHIC factor – an environmentally friendly car with a futuristic design delivering sculpture, dramatic proportion and all without compromise. 

The stance of the first design, the Fisker Karma, is wide and low. It delivers such dramatic proportions for a four-door sports sedan that one would not anticipate. The height of a Porsche 911, length of a Mercedes Benz CLS and the width of a BMW 7 Series. The sleek design accents the long hood and is a direct result of our breakthrough chassis. Fisker was able to incorporate many of the aspects a designer would dream of in designing a car – the design takes the technology and proves that the best technology can be wrapped up in a beautiful package. 

In traditional Henrik Fisker fashion, the first designs showcased to the public are what the customer will own as an end result. Fisker doesn’t believe in wowing the audience and then changing the design when it comes time to produce the car. The development approach is to focus on creating sketches, which are then carried into the clay model phase. We couple this with the latest in digital tools for high efficiency and optimal development time turn around. 

The interior design of the car is an equally important element of design. A modern, sophisticated and luxurious finish is delivered in all Fisker Automotive designs.

-Plug-in hybrid technology Q DRIVE
-0-60 in less than 6 seconds (0-100 km/h 6 seconds)
-Top speed 125 mph (200 km/h)
-Two Driving Modes: The driver will be able to select between two modes of driving. The first mode is Stealth Drive, which is the quiet economy mode for optimal relaxed and efficient driving. By flipping the second paddle behind the steering wheel, the car will switch to Sport Drive, which will access the full power of the vehicle.
-Regenerative brakes featured to recapture braking energy
-Low center of gravity provides optimal sport vehicle driving dynamics

As for the interior and how the car drives, both remain a mystery. The former will be revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in early January. The latter we'll find out as the Karma nears production in a year; scheduled deliveries start November 2009 and Fisker expects an impressive annual volume of 15,000 units following the model's freshman year on the market.

But, by then will it be too late? At the time of this writing, Malibu residents are filling their Astons and Alfas with $2.20/gallon premium. Oil cartels have now realized the dangers of being greedy; oil now trades below $60 a barrel and fuel prices have been cut at a staggering rate across the nation. Perhaps the omniscient cause-and-effect-law of karma kicked in before Fisker's own interpretation could arrive.