The F3e is officially dead. According to sources cited by China Business News, the battery firm turned electric-car maker has ceased plans for commercial production of its four door electric sedan.
There has been little mention of the all-electric sedan since its plug-in hybrid sibling, the F3DM was launched in December 2008, but Wang Jianjun, deputy general manager of BYD Automotive Sales Co Ltd has finally confirmed that the F3e will never be made.
So why is a firm primarily focused on battery technology and electric vehicles killing off an all-electric sedan which, on paper, could have competed with the 2011 Nissan Leaf?
Lack of government support. At least, that’s the official line.
But while the Chinese authorities may not be supporting the electric vehicle as much as BYD would like, American businessman Warren Buffet is still 100% behind the company.
Buffet’s investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway, purchased 10% of the company in 2008 for $230 million.
BYD also enjoys an investment from Daimler, which has formed a partnership with the firm to produce a new range of electric cars via a joint venture called Shenzhen BYD Daimler.
What of the e6, BYD’s all-electric crossover SUV? While a test-fleet of 40 vehicles are currently working as taxis in Shenzhen the company has certainly fallen behind its own target of selling the e6 to a U.S. market by fall of 2010.
Given that in 2009 BYD sold just 48 of the F3DM, the variant of the F3 the firm chose to develop instead of the F3e, we can’t help but question what the future of the e6 is.
All signs from the Chinese firm now point to a shift from private electric transport to developing public mass-transit and plug-in hybrids. We can’t see how the e6 fits in with that switch.
For now, we’re calling it. BYD’s chances of getting to the U.S? Slim.