By Ajay Viswanathan, Jaseem Pookandy, Luca Rassenti, Pragya Uprety, Tsu-Yu Hsia and Vivek Mehta
Shenzhen: Li is driving a group of passengers in his shiny new BYD E6 to the Bao’an International airport. Heavy traffic has depleted his E6 of all the charge and, to his dismay, he cannot find a single charging station in the 10-mile stretch to the airport. Li soon realizes he will face this problem each day, his business being severely impacted by the lack of infrastructure in his city. He has paid a steep price for an electric vehicle (EV) but now regrets the investment.
San Francisco: Micheal, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur is evaluating options for his new “green car” purchase. At the top on his list is the Prius, but he also is contemplating waiting a little longer for new entrants from Nissan and the new Chinese auto giant, BYD. He is slightly skeptical due to the negative perception in the United States about Chinese automobile manufacturing and BYD’s problems and chooses the Prius hybrid, which works out just fine for the long weekend trips with his girlfriend.
These scenarios sum up the problems for BYD and the electric vehicle (EV) industry at large. While it seems as though the technology is promising, China is not ready for it. China’s income levels and infrastructure cannot yet support the paradigm shift to EVs at this point in time. While the west is much more ready for the shift to EVs, it seems as though BYD is not prepared for the quality and safety demands Western markets will impose. The negative perception of “Made in China” will not be changed overnight.