April 2, 2010 - From the March2010 issue

The Green Tech Company to Watch; BYD-Motors Coming to North America

In his introduction to the remarks by BYD Motors General Manager Fred Ni at VX2010 in Los Angeles in January, former Speaker of the California Assembly and founder of G24 Innovations Robert Hertzberg predicted big things for BYD around the world and in this country. From Fred Ni's remarks given at the conference, excerpted here by TPR/MIR, it is easy to see why. BYD has advanced technology that can advance solutions in almost every aspect of the sustainable lifestyle that will emerge over the next few decades-from transportation to green building to stormwater capture to battery technology, BYD is set to compete for market dominance.


Fred Ni

The technology is available so that consumers can make a green life without much change to their current lifestyles. Today I would like to make a short introduction of BYD technology to make the future a greener and better place.

BYD was a company founded in 1995, with 20 employees and $300,000 of private funding in China. Mr. Warren Buffet owns a significant piece of BYD through a MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company. In that sense, BYD is not only a Chinese company, but we are also a local American company. BYD's business can be classified into three major business categories; we'll start with the green energy part first because that is where BYD started our business.

We started as a company focusing on rechargeable battery manufacturing. Today we are one of the largest rechargeable battery manufacturers in the world. We are number one for the nickel-cadmium battery. Black & Decker is a major customer for us. Our market share in the global market is over 70 percent. We are number three in nickel-metal hydride batteries. That's the type of battery used in hybrid vehicles and cordless phones. In lithium-cobalt batteries, which is a battery technology used in cell phones and notebook computers, we are the largest manufacturer in the world. We are making one million cell phone rechargeable batteries every day-that's the type of scale we have. We developed a lithium-ion phosphate battery, or ion battery, which is a safe, affordable technology for electric vehicle application and for large energy storage systems.

We also have large solar panel production capability, and BYD owns a major silica mine in China. We started from a mechanical and physical process of purifying silica from a mine and making it into cells and panels. We also have LED and all those types of technologies. That's our green energy group.

We also have an automobile group. BYD started our automobile business in 2003. It took us two years to develop our first automobile model. In 2005 our annual sales in automobiles were just 20,000 vehicles, but last year we made sales of 450,000 vehicles. We are now the fourth largest automobile manufacturer in China. We are only after Volkswagen and GM. Volkswagen takes number one and number three because they have two partners-one in the northern part of China and one in Shanghai. We are number four, and the largest automobile manufacturer with a domestic brand. We are also a technology leader in new energy vehicles.

Another area is our traditional-we call it our component-business area. In this area we are one of the largest original design manufacturers in the world. We support major customers like Nokia, Motorola, Apple, and SonyEricsson. We produce 30 percent of the Nokia phones. For Motorola, we produce 80 percent of the iconic Razr phone. A lot of consumers in the U.S. are actually using BYD products without knowing BYD, because in this business category we support our customer; we do the production and the design, but use our customers' brands.

Now a quick summary of the green vehicle technologies we have. The F3DM is a vehicle we sent to the market in December 2008. This is the first plug-in hybrid vehicle in mass production in the world. If you are driving your vehicle 50 miles a day you do not need gasoline at all; the battery will support the vehicle. However, if you have to drive to Florida for your business trip or vacation, there is a gasoline engine that will kick in to make sure there is no application barrier for you. The BYD e6 is the first electric vehicle BYD developed for the market. Currently this vehicle is already in the Chinese market. We plan to introduce this vehicle to the U.S. market at the end of this year. This vehicle uses a battery alone, and one single charge can support the vehicle for 205 miles. We have different charging technologies; the shortest one allows you to charge the vehicle to 50 percent within 10 minutes, and you can use the regular electricity outlet in your garage. It's pretty much like the way you use your cell phone: at the end of the day, you charge it. We have a smart program that automatically checks the period where electricity is the cheapest so that you automatically charge the vehicle at the lowest cost.

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Living green doesn't mean that you are living in a house wrapped with grass. BYD technology is demonstrated in the BYD green village at our campus, where the energy need is met by renewable sources such as solar on the rooftop and wind turbines in the backyard. All of these renewable energies will be stored inside a residential energy storage system, which is a refrigerator-sized appliance. You can store the electricity and use that for your daily energy application, and also charge your electric vehicle.

This is not just technology; the infrastructure is already there. At a school of model buildings set up inside the BYD campus we collect rainwater, which, when purified, is drinkable. Also, if you take a shower or wash your vegetables, the water collected will be purified again so that you can use that water to water your plants. This will be a good technology, particularly in Southern California.

Here are some technologies that BYD has to make this design come true: We have very large solar panel production capability, we have battery technology to make a transportable energy storage system, and we combined the solar panel technology, battery, and LED technologies together to make a stand-alone street light. And we have an electric vehicle, which you can consider as a mini energy storage system. All these technologies are combined in the BYD green village.

I would like to give a little bit more detail about this energy storage system because we believe this technology can dramatically improve the environment. In the power grid today, the electricity is generated through central electricity production facilities, which then go to a substation and then to a residential house or manufacturing facilities. The problem here is that utility companies have to prepare their electricity generation, based on the peak demand in the daytime. However, there is not an efficient energy storage solution available. That means that when the energy demand is low, for example at night, there is a lot of energy wasted. We have different ratios in different countries. Basically the current system is not very efficient, but we can change that. What can set up an energy storage system with a large sized battery using the same exact chemistry that is used in electric vehicles. When we set up this large energy storage system next to a substation we can do two things. At night, it will charge the battery with the extra power that is generated. In the daytime it will discharge to meet extra demand. In that way you can automatically reduce your electricity generating capacity by 20-30 percent without sacrificing your energy support level.

Another major problem this technology will help to solve is to improve the efficiency of renewable energy. Today China is putting together a goal to increase the percentage of renewable energy to 20 percent nationwide by 2020. However, we all know that renewable energy has a big weakness, which is the variation. When a cloud comes you can see the output of a solar panel decrease by 30, even 50, percent. Wind power has the same problem: wind comes; wind goes. However, the electricity generated in this manner is harmful to the utilities. Utility companies cannot really utilize this because it causes damage to the stability of the utility network, to the grid. What we can do is use this energy storage system as a reservoir to collect all these renewable energies and provide a stable output. In that way, we can really make renewable energy highly efficient.

I really appreciate the time and we look forward to being here as a part of the solution, to join the effort with everybody here, to make California a greener and better place. Thank you.

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© 2021 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.