Four years ago, the BYD Company promoted the electric battery technology it was developing as a way to help China transform the automobile. No less an investor than Warren E. Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, boasted about the company’s prospects and bought a 10 percent stake.
But recently, nothing has gone right. BYD’s stock is down 43 percent from its high on Feb. 8 as investors and analysts have questioned whether the company has the technology or the manufacturing quality to be an enduring competitor in the Chinese market.
BYD’s sales of gasoline-powered cars, the company’s commercial mainstay, have wilted this spring as Chinese buyers have moved toward more expensive but better-quality cars from its rivals. At the same time, BYD now accepts that the future of the auto industry is more likely to lie in hybrid gasoline-electric cars, a technology in which it lags Japanese manufacturers, and not in all-electric cars, which still face issues of battery range and recharging time.
And on Sunday, new questions arose about the company’s battery technology when a Nissan GT-R sports car traveling at more than 110 miles an hour slammed into the back of one of BYD’s electric taxis in southern China and set the vehicle aflame .Page 1 of 4 | Next Page