Buffett Watch

Warren Buffett's Electric Car Hits the Chinese Market, But Rollout Delayed For U.S. & Europe

BYD's F3DM electric car as shown on the Chinese company's web site bydauto.com

A Chinese-made electric car, backed by Warren Buffett, has been officially introduced to the retail market in that country.

The Associated Press reports BYD's F3DM was officially presented today (Monday) at a ceremony in Shenzhen.  It can go about 62 miles on its electric engine, and has a small gasoline engine as back up.  It takes nine hours to charge the battery from a regular electric outlook.  Price: 149,800 yuan, which is equivalent to $22,000, in line with other Chinese-made mid-sized cars.

The plug-in was scheduled to be sold in the U.S. and Europe starting in 2010, but Reuters quotes BYD Chairman Wang Chuan Fu as telling reporters those plans have been delayed one year to 2011.

Still, as the Wall Street Journal notes, BYD's plug-in electric car is at least a year ahead of the electric vehicles planned by competitors including General Motors and Toyota , at least as far as the Chinese market is concerned.

In late September, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, bought a 10 percent stake in BYDfor about $230 million.  While a small stake, it continued Berkshire's trend of putting money into technologies designed to reduce the world's dependence on oil.

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