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Europe/China: Daimler-BYD EV Will Debut in Spring

Just the Facts: •Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche says the design of the electric car being developed with Chinese partner BYD “is frozen, and the first prototype will appear next April.”
•Zetsche says Daimler elected not to develop an EV with another Chinese partner, Beijing Auto, because “they have no battery technology, so it was better to do this with BYD.”
•Despite BYD’s reputation as an expert in batteries and EVs, Zetsche says it’s Daimler rather than BYD that is doing most of the development work on the new joint-venture car for China.

STUTTGART, Germany — Daimler’s plans to develop a new car brand for China in collaboration with local partner BYD are “on track,” according to Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, who met last week with BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu. The design of the first electric car from the joint venture “is frozen, and the first prototype will appear next April,” most likely at the Beijing auto show.

As Zetsche says, at one point Wang appeared to be a man “who could walk on water — which he can’t.” Since the agreement was signed, BYD has faced “potholes” with both its car and mobile phone businesses, says Zetsche, leading some commentators to suggest that Wang is a bad manager, “which is not true either.”

BYD recently was forced to lay off thousands of employees. The Chinese automaker, based in Shenzhen, has scaled back plans that nevertheless remain ambitious, while admitting that it has made policy mistakes as far back as 2009.
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