BYD lures e-taxi operators with financing incentive

BEIJING Sun Nov 4, 2012 1:56am EST

A BYD (Build Your Dreams) logo is seen on the front of an e6 electric vehicle during the press days for the North American International Auto show in Detroit, Michigan, January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

A BYD (Build Your Dreams) logo is seen on the front of an e6 electric vehicle during the press days for the North American International Auto show in Detroit, Michigan, January 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Taxi operators in China interested in electrifying their fleet can pay the full price of BYD's (1211.HK) (002594.SZ> e6 in installments, saving them the hefty upfront full payment they have to make for a gasoline-powered car, the Warren Buffett-backed Chinese car maker said on Sunday.

They can sign a rental agreement with financing firm or a third party taxi operator which own e6 and claim ownership of the car after the full payment is made, it said in a statement.

Taxi operators can also buy e6 through bank credit with zero down-payment, BYD said, adding China Development Bank is the strategic financing partner for the new initiative.

Each e6 purchased through such arrangements would save a taxi operator 326,477 yuan in five years because of cheaper electric price, even though the e6 costs 180,000 yuan after government subsidies compared with 10,000 yuan for a gasoline car, it said.

BYD, which also makes the electric bus K9 and the plug-in hybrid F3DM, is seen as a domestic pioneer in green auto technology in China.

Its e6 joined Shenzhen's taxi fleet in 2010, as part of pilot project initiated by China to put 5 million plug-in hybrids and electric cars on the road by 2020.

However, the electric car is still a rarity in Chinese cities due to the lack of charging facilities and the high battery cost. Last year, a mere 8,159 were sold across the country, including those for government pilot EV programs.

The safety of BYD's electric vehicles has been called into question after an e6 taxi caught fire in a fatal accident in May. A probe showed the lithium-ion phosphate battery that powers the car was not the cause of the fire and it was due to the high-speed collision, BYD said in August.

(Reporting by Fang Yan in BEIJING and Kazunori Takada in SHANGHAI; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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