BYD India’s Ketsu Zhang: 'We would like to start electric car production in India, both for the domestic market and also for global markets.'

by Kiran Bajad 23 Sep 2019


China’s BYD, which is the world's largest EV manufacturer and well entrenched in India's electric bus market, has recently launched two new products  —  T3 MPV and T3 cargo minivan  —  targeted at the personal and logistics segments. They could also be the precursor to make-in-India exports. BYD India’s Executive Director Ketsu Zhang speaks to Autocar Professional.

What is BYD India's current business plan in India? What are the key areas the company is working on? What potential do you foresee in India's EV market?
At this current stage, BYD India is focusing on introducing the most advanced and cleanest technology into the Indian market to answer the government’s call and people’s will of building a more clean and sustainable country.

BYD India’s business covers mobile components, solar panels, battery energy storage, electric buses, electric trucks, electric forklifts, chargers, rail transit, and more. The BYD-Olectra partnership introduced the first pure electric bus into India.

BYD-Olectra has secured 39 percent of the electric bus tenders in India. Pictured above is a row of 12-metre-long K9 buses operated by Hyderabad TSRTC. These buses, says BYD India, can travel 250km on a single charge.  

In the past few years, the partnership has realised the local design, R&D, manufacturing of electric buses in India, and even established battery-manufacturing facilities here. The partnership has successfully piloted electric buses in Bangalore, Rajkot, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Goa, Cochin, Chandigarh, Vijayawada, Manali, Mumbai, Surat, and other cities. At present, the BYD-Olectra partnership has gained a 52 percent market share of electric buses commercially operating in India.

BYD sees great potential for this market, and India will become one of the biggest electric vehicle markets in the future. We believe more and more companies will enter the competition and offer solutions to the problems of pollution, congestion and energy consumption. Together with Olectra, BYD will work hard to maintain its dominant market position in India.

Full-electric T3 MPV (left) takes 90 minutes for a full charge using DC charging equipment but can also take standard AC chargers. Once fully charged, both the MPV and the Cargo Minivan (right) can travel up to 300km. BYD India has yet to reveal the prices for the two electric vehicles. 

What is the strategy behind entering the T3 pure electric passenger MPV and T3 pure electric commercial logistics minivan segments in India?
BYD values the strength and potential of the Indian market and now we are actively demonstrating the product and exploring market demands. In the end, we would like to start our electric car production in India not only for the Indian market but also for overseas markets. The charging infrastructure in India has not yet been well established, thus we believe electrification in public transportation sectors and B2B sector is more reasonable and reliable at the current stage.

The promotion of the T3 series is in line with our strategy of public transportation electrification and 7+4 full market EV strategy. The BYD 7+4 full market EV strategy encompasses most forms of ground transportation as well as every aspect of daily transportation needs. It comprises seven conventional types of transportation (passenger vehicles, taxis, buses, coaches, urban logistics vehicles, urban construction vehicles and urban sanitation vehicles) and four specialised types of transportation (vehicles for mining, ports, airports, and warehousing).

Could you elaborate on the key features of these products, in terms of specifications, range, and localisation? What’s the suitability of these products to the Indian market?
BYD’s T3 MPV and T3 minivan models adopt BYD’s proprietary battery technology, whose safety, reliability and lifecycle are proven by the company’s 11-year track record of EV operation as well as its global EV footprint. The vehicles offer the best configuration available in the market, featuring keyless entry, push-button start, a music system with Bluetooth connectivity, reverse parking cameras and sensors, and well-designed spaces for cargo storage or passengers. The vehicles are equipped with automatic transmission, which makes them among the most easily operable vehicles on the market.

Both models also come with advanced safety features like Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electric Parking System (EPB), Brake Override System (BOS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), and more. A regenerative braking system helps to improve range and save energy, while the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus communication system provides smart management and maintenance. Compared to a traditional fuel minivan, the T3 MPV and T3 minivan can effectively reduce the cost of urban logistics distribution. Adopting BYD’s cutting-edge technology, one single T3 MPV or T3 minivan can save fuel consumption and emissions equivalent to 5 passengers cars. Both models require only 1.5 hours to fully charge using DC charging equipment, and both also support standard AC chargers. Once fully charged, both models can travel up to 300km.

The T3 series is designed and developed for global markets and complies with international standards. Since this is the first time that BYD has introduced these models into the Indian market, we are exploring local clients’ requirements and the most suitable configuration for this market. Nevertheless, we firmly believe that the T3 series is a very good option for the Indian market, as it is well-tuned to the demands of the B2B and logistics sector.

Building infrastructure is extremely critical to allowing EVs to take off in India. Are you working on plans to help customers with all the necessary support to charge, run and maintain the EVs?
Yes, BYD is supporting local partners and customers to build charging stations/networks and service centres in different locations for the operation of EVs, as well as providing charger maintenance services.

What are the investments the company has made in India thus far? What are the future investment goals in the short to medium-term?
BYD India was established in March 2007 in Chennai and set up an office in New Delhi. The Indian subsidiary has two factories, covering more than 140,000 square metres, with a cumulative investment of over 150 million US dollars.

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