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PHOTO CAPTION: BYD F3DM is a plug-in hybrid electric car.

BYD to Launch Electric Car Sales in China Next Month

F3DM plug-in hybrid will sell for equivalent of $22,000 and has a 110 km electric-mode driving range. It will be the first mass-produced PHEV in the world, beating GM and Toyota to market by at least a year.

Published: 15-Oct-2008

SHENZHEN, China -- A Chinese company best-known for making cellphone batteries says it is on the verge of launching the country's first mass-produced electric car and may also have lined up its first large purchase order.

In an interview, BYD Co. Chairman Wang Chuanfu said the car, known as the F3DM, will be on sale in China by the end of November, pending government approval. Mr. Wang declined to provide a sales target or price range for the new electric car but said in Beijing earlier this year that the vehicle could carry a price tag of about 150,000 yuan ($22,000) and is capable of going as far as 110 kilometers on electricity when fully charged.

Industry analysts say the new car -- a key reason why investor Warren Buffett recently decided to invest $230 million for a 10% stake in Mr. Wang's company -- is similar in design to General Motors Corp.'s Chevy Volt but is due to hit the market two years earlier than either the Volt or Toyota Motor Corp.'s new breed of hybrid-electric car. Both GM and Toyota say they are taking more time to make sure lithium-ion batteries they are using for their electric cars are safe.

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