Coming to America: The Chinese BYD e6

Posted on 11. Jul, 2012 by in Auto News

Chicago meets hipster Williamsburg, Brooklyn – 02.00 clock impromptu marching bands, anonymous midday drive-by eggings and vehicle fires that firefighters never get put out. I've seen my fair share of eccentric things in my northwest Chicago neighborhood of Logan Square

One of the strangest is my encounter with the BYD e6, a relatively large, China produced electric crossover with a reported range of up to 186 miles. This vehicle has not appeared at a U.S. trade fair for almost two years, and it really has not been mentioned by the automotive media – until now. Not only did I. The e6 in a small, inconspicuous supplier of quirky EVs, but I was able to drive it, even

For those rusty on Chinese cars, the BYD e6 was one of the few vehicles that actually had (and apparently not yet have) a good chance to get in the States. BYD – short for Build Your Dreams – is one of the largest, privately owned Chinese automaker. It is also one of the largest suppliers of rechargeable batteries.

The e6 at Green Wheels, an electric and hybrid vehicle suppliers and maintenance company, is part of BYD's strategy to test the U.S. waters. "This is probably the only one in the country," said Doug Snower, owner of Green Wheels. This e6 was the round, it was just one of Berkshire Hathaway's get-together in Omaha, Nebraska, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett bought a nearly 10% stake in BYD in 2009, is based off of the company at that time a good chance of return.

Larger Than Nissan Leaf

One thing that e6 has going for it is great. At 179.5 inches long and 71.7 inches wide, the e6 is about the same size as a 2013 Honda CR-V and is much larger than either the Nissan Leaf or Ford Electric. It also has a higher ground clearance, and there is a lot of knee and legroom in the rear, as well.

I was impressed with this Chinese vehicle's interior. The materials are at eye level in a Toyota Corolla or Kia Forte, which say that to, it was okay but not outstanding is found. Interior design and ergonomics reminded me of the Toyota Prius v (although the e6 came first). There is a large digital display for the backup camera image. Snower told me that the model I tested features – leather, power-folding mirrors and a passenger's camera – that would be based on models that are sold here.

The e6 driving experience was rough around the edges, however. That's somewhat understandable, because the test car has been heavily used. Snower and Green Wheels' operation manger Chickerneo Carey told me it was not really maintained close to a year. "All the service manuals are in Chinese," said Chickerneo. In a nutshell, braking and steering felt crude and uneven – it's a dead area in the middle of the brake pedal travel, which is particularly irritating. Hopefully these questions will probably not make tuning it for the retail model.

During the hour-long test drive, commute about 14 miles of the city and provide a brief highway route, the e6 felt isolated and well planted, it absorbs bumps well and inconsistencies. Like the Nissan Leaf, the BYD e6 had strong initial pickup, but overall acceleration felt sluggish than the Nissan. The e6 tops out at 87 mph, get the blade to about 90 mph.

A few strange noises

The electric drive train made a few strange noises, including a shudder when you first start, which was preceded by the known oscillating hum of the electric motor. When I accelerated, there was another secondary vibrations and hum from the engine compartment. If I did not know better, I'd assumed it was an on-board gasoline generator kicking in, how it works on the Chevrolet Volt have. I have no explanation for this noise. It had a loud air compressor, but it is possible, the e6 has some of the same problems that Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfeld fields in his Fisker Karma review mentioned.

The BYD e6 has announced a rather unique battery chemistry as a lithium iron phosphate. The chemistry is supposedly greener and means that the battery experiences less capacity decay over the lifetime of the vehicle. Lose a Nissan Leaf to 30% of its capacity after 10 years could drive a car, for example. The e6 massive 61.4-kilowatt-hour battery is about 2.5 times larger than the Leaf battery and has a reported 186-mile range. Snower told me that he is the BYD driven more than 150 miles on a single charge. The battery is supposed to be stable in case of accidents when the car manufacturer has recently come under scrutiny after a BYD e6 taxi explodes in a high-speed accident in China, according to the New York Times.

The Chinese-spec model can be charged by a powerful 100-kilowatt front cabinet, outputting 360 volts DC and an AC output current of 300 amps, which can charge the battery in less than great 40 minutes after BYD. The only problem with the charger is that it uses a Chinese standard that is not in the U.S.; Snower has to make the model to a charge he BYD charging cabinet installed in his brother-in-law house. He told me that BYD is working on the implementation of SAE compliant charging stations on the e6.

Coming to America?

The BYD e6 should go early to the sale in the U.S. this year, the automaker now says fleet sales will occur by the end of the year with the retail launch even further, according to the New York Times.

The e6, sells for about $ 58,000 in China. Snower expected to be priced around $ 50,000 here, so that a hard sell the e6. The full-size 2012 Tesla Model S, which just went on sale, is much bigger than the BYD e6, can accommodate up to seven people and gets about 140 miles range (with the smallest battery). It has a starting price of $ 57,400.

Then again, the e6 is sold as taxi and car in his home country. It will likely peddle the same way here.

The BYD e6, the high projected range and versatility will likely make it one of the first profitable marketable Chinese cars will be sold in the United States, even if those customers not yet retail purchaser only.

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