Battery maker turned car manufacturer BYD says it plans to start selling electric cars in the U.S. next year, earlier than planned, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Chinese company, though, is not going to follow the same strategy as Nissan or General Motors and pitch its car at consumers. Instead, it will target the car at utilities and government agencies. Ford will initially sell its electrics to fleet vehicle owners. These are the kind of people that buy cars en masse, don't have as many anxieties about range, and don't have to worry about finding public charging stations. These cars typically only drive a few miles a day and within a circumscribed area.
And you can bet the most popular color will be white.
Pedestrian and mundane, yes, but it actually fits better with the existing state of electric cars. BYD will also sell its cars to celebrities. It won't be the first time economy cars have been pitched to the super rich: Tom Hanks owns one of AC Propulsion's retrofitted electric Scions.
BYD's car will sell for a little over $40,000, which could make it more expensive than the Nissan Leaf, which is expected to come in at the $30,000 range.
The big question, though, is will U.S. consumers, or government agencies, go for a Chinese made car? BYD and companies like Coda Automotive, which has a Chinese made car and an executive team of alums from Goldman Sachs and the Clinton administration, will have to overcome worries about quality and latent nationalism. Neither company, so far, seems to want to produce cars at a significantly lower price than Japanese or U.S. manufacturers.
Then again, with its emphasis on outsourcing, cheap Chinese labor, and high-level connections in New York and Washington, Coda might be the most American car company out there.