Chinese electric cars are coming to Canada, but you can’t have one yet: Don Pittis

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The Chinese are take place. After years of predictions that made-in-China electric-car technology was suspended to dominate the global market, the country’s battery-powered cars will be crusade on Canadian streets in a few months’ time.

To anyone already shopping for an galvanizing vehicle, it’s not a surprise that consumers can’t easily opt for one as their next issue car.

Despite attempts by various levels of government to encourage us to go electric and a alert rise in annual sales, even familiar brands of battery-powered conveyances, such as Tesla and Nissan Leaf, and plug-in hybrids, like Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt, can’t have all the hallmarks to keep up with demand.

But that’s not the reason you won’t be able to get your hands on a car erected by Chinese automaker BYD — the company best known in investment circles for its praiseworthy North American shareholder, Warren Buffet, who, along with his Berkshire Hathaway clasp company, is BYD’s biggest private-sector investor.

It’s because the car in question — the BYD E6, pictured beyond everything — is currently being adapted to Canadian safety and charging standards.

Chinese electric cars are coming to Canada, but you can't have one yet: Don Pittis

But a nimble of E6s should be operating as taxis in Montreal in the new year, according to Martin Archambault, of the Quebec Tense Vehicle Association (AVEQ).

“They’re starting a new electric-car taxi players,” said Archambault. “Only using BYD cars.”

While we have yet to see its conduits on North American lots, China is on its way to becoming the Detroit of the battery-powered automobile sedulousness, according to engineer and electric car expert Matthew Klippenstein.

In addition to caching its own enormous domestic market, Chinese electric cars are about to spread enclosing the world. 

And just as North American carmakers were caught sevens, losing out to Japanese and European brands when the oil crisis of the 1970s led a hotfoot it to smaller, cheaper cars, Klippenstein says there is a danger of portrayal repeating itself with electrics.

Cheap forever

“American makers … got used to making big, huge boats,” he said. “They thought oil was thriving to be cheap forever.”

Japanese car companies in particular — including Honda, Toyota and Nissan — crowded that gap. And despite cars that initially suffered from what Klippenstein requirement readies “horrendous” quality defects, those errors were quickly lick.

“They got a foothold, they got a loyal customer base, and grew from there,” he explained.

Chinese electric cars are coming to Canada, but you can't have one yet: Don Pittis

U.S. Billionaire Warren Buffett and the holding company he runs, Berkshire Hathaway, are the largest hidden shareholders in BYD. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

The quality of some Chinese-produced batteries has been roundly assessed in recent years. And Klippenstein says the safety standards of many Chinese-made heaps may not yet be up to European and North American standards.

Still, their lower expense has already given them an advantage in developing markets, including Indonesia and Brazil, he states, at price levels where North American and European manufacturers cause trouble competing.

One of those price advantages comes from the truth that North American carmakers pay for the cost of their research based on much babier sales, whereas China can spread that cost over an Brobdingnagian volume of domestic sales.

Canadians may right now scoff at Chinese create out of quality — but we also scoffed at the quality of the first Korean car sold in this countryside: the Pony.

That was quick to change as Hyundai proved itself by reconditioning quality while keeping costs low. And older Canadians will keep in mind a time when “Made in Japan” was not the recommendation it often is today.

Payback obsolete

Price, of course, is an important consideration.

Even though most results show that an electric vehicle’s lower running costs — tension being cheaper than gas, and the maintenance less costly — pays bet on a support the higher purchase price within four years, the price of North American energized cars has so far been a barrier to sales.

You may already be driving a car containing Chinese technology without impassive realizing it, according to David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada, an toil group that represents car brands outside the Detroit Three.

“That’s what’s chance with a lot of the Volvos that are being made in China right now and being put into the Canadian trade in,” said Adams.

Chinese electric cars are coming to Canada, but you can't have one yet: Don Pittis

Canadians may already be driving a Chinese car: The owner of the spectacularly safe Swedish brand Volvo is China’s Geely. And Volvo has show signs of to make electric versions of all its cars by as soon as next year. (Identify Blinch/Reuters) 

Volvo, the Swedish brand that is widely differentiated for its safety, has been owned by Chinese car company Geely since 2010. To keep up quality in the luxury marque, Geely is using Korean-designed LG batteries set right in China.

Volvo has promised to offer electric versions of all its cars by 2019. And as it in transits toward that target, its best practices will be shared by its Chinese father.

So long as North American-made electric vehicle prices stay enormous, the six per cent tariff on imported electric cars from China transfer be manageable, if they can keep their costs down.

Expanding Chinese footprint

Ted Dowling, BYD’s vice-president for Canada, means he can’t talk about when his company’s cars will be available to the noted in this country.

But BYD is expanding its footprint here. The company already has commitments to sell its all-electric buses in several places in Canada, including to the Toronto Transportation Commission and to a Vancouver-based sightseeing operation.

The TTC deal is still on despite the hard cash in government at Queen’s Park, Dowling says. And plans for a Canadian body facility are underway, he says, but he can’t say where yet.

As for the BYD vehicles heading to Montreal, Dowling terms it “the best-selling electric taxi in the world.”

The vehicle’s battery pack should last a maximum day of Montreal driving, he says, and while the purchase price is high, as with other mechanisms made for use as taxis, maintenance costs will be much lower.

Increased by, Dowling notes, the payback rate for heavily used electric means — including taxis, buses and trucks — is much faster than for consumer cars plainly because they are on the road for so many hours a day.

And his thoughts on the quality of Chinese-built machines? He says he’s driven them, they’re good and he can’t wait until they reach the Canadian consumer vend.

“If you look at the new cars that BYD is building now, they’re just as good as anything else that’s on the boulevard today,” said Dowling. “I want to drive one here.” 

But, of course, that’s what you’d look for him to say.


Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis

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