Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD has been making waves recently, taking command of the highly competitive Chinese market and making impressive showings at their auto shows.
When recently interviewed at a launch for the company’s Dolphin EV in Brazil, BYD executive vice president and CEO of BYD Americas, Stella Li, showed the utmost confidence when asked if she felt her company was ready to take on the American market.
Li cited her company's unparalleled technological innovation and quality as the key factors she believes will drive their continued success.
How BYD Builds a Car
Traditional car companies usually take around four years to develop a new vehicle. BYD takes only 18 months.
While such a rapid approach did not serve Vietnamese EV company VinFast very well, Li argues that BYD is a different animal of a company, describing them as an “engineering company” that produces highly innovative, quality cars.
It’s a fitting progression for a company that started developing cell phone batteries. According to Li, as many as 20 percent of phone components made globally are produced by BYD.
The advantage here is that as modern cars become smartphones, people can drive; they don’t have to outsource technical R&D like many automakers, instead developing and producing most of their components in-house.
Li explains that they hire the best they can find, from designers to engineers and people with doctorates in material sciences. Then, they have all these highly qualified individuals work within specific departments where their skills are put to the most efficient use possible.
While many American car companies struggle to engineer new technology for their vehicles and technology companies likewise struggle to produce automobiles, BYD utilizes their company's “heavily integrated” nature to streamline production while maximizing in-house communication between their separate divisions.
As Li explains, “…you just call them into one room” any divisions that need to collaborate to find a solution to a technical issue they’re encountering, and “they are sitting together there to find the solution.”
That’s an undeniably more effective working method than the one outlined by Ford CEO Jim Farley. When pressed at a July press conference about why their Over The Air updates are so spotty, Farley replied that their technology is outsourced to so many different companies it becomes challenging to determine where software and hardware issues originated.
Bolstering Li’s confidence in BYD’s integrated production method, her company reportedly produces an average of 11 new patents daily.
Li is ‘Proud' of BYD's Dolphin EV Launch
Regarding BYD’s Dolphin EV launch, Li cites the vehicle’s incredible value as why she believes it will succeed. It comes with what she describes as an affordable price tag but with the kind of features luxury car buyers dream about – voice-controlled features, cell phone opened doors, and built-in karaoke and game modes.
Li is proud of the innovation that went into the Dolphin, saying that it epitomizes what “the BYD concept” is about.
BYD's integrated and quick production means to allow them to build extravagant vehicles with costs that enable them to compete with the best automakers in China, something the three biggest automakers in the US are currently struggling to do.
If BYD brings its unique cars to the US market and consumers like what they see, Tesla might finally have a challenger.