GUANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - Chinese car maker BYD Co Ltd, backed by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, is banking on renewable energy cars to reap a “sizable profit” in about five years and is focusing on green buses next year.
“We have two e-buses running in Shenzhen now and are in talks to sell to Hong Kong and exports overseas, including Europe and the United States,” spokesman Paul Lin told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an autoshow in China’s southern city of Guangzhou on Monday.
BYD also estimated its car sales to be more than 500,000 units this year, which would be lower than a revised sales target of 600,000 units. The company had not set a target for next year, Lin said.
Lower-than-expected car sales have put pressure on BYD’s stock, which has fallen by nearly half from it 52 week high of HK$84 to close at HK$42.6 on Monday.
BYD shipped a total of 467,000 vehicles to dealers in the first 11 months of 2010, up 20 percent, but its November sales fell nearly 19 percent to 41,200, based on data from China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The company cut its 2010 sale target earlier this year by 25 percent due to a time lag for parts manufacturing to catch up.
“We are more focused on quality this year and next,” Lin added.
BYD makes its all-electric bus K9 in its Changsha plant, where Warren Buffett and Bill Gates paid a visit in September.
The plant can make about 1,000 buses a year and has orders to sell 500 to Shenzhen and 500 to Changsha.
“This will be a major growth area for us next year,” Lin said.
The selling price for a BYD electric bus will be 2-3 million yuan ($300,000-$450,000), but China’s government subsidies could be up to 1.2 million yuan, he said.
The 12 meter long K9 has a silver body with tinted glass and can run about 250 km by one charge.
BYD exported about 16,000 cars to more than 70 countries this year, up 250 percent, and hopes to double exports next year.
However, the sale of its electric car e-6 to the United States would have to wait until 2012 following sales to corporations and taxi drivers.
Editing by Jon Loades-Carter