North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Detroit, MI – BYD Auto’s chairman Wang Chuanfu and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.’s David Sokol sat down with me at the 2009 Detroit auto show. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Chuanfu and Sokol talked about BYD auto and what Warren Buffet saw in BYD Auto that made them invest $235 million for about 10 percent share of BYD Auto.
BYD Auto is a Chinese automobile manufacturer based in Shenzhen Guangdong Province People’s Republic of China. BYD Auto specializes in ferrous batteries for electric vehicles. Chuanfu’s interpreter talked about getting the electric battery ready for electric vehicles. The intent is to create batteries that will help regulate voltage on the electric grid.
What I didn’t know before this meeting was that BYD is creating energy storage systems that hold energy that can be used later, say, during peak hours of transmission between noon and 5 pm in the United States.
Can the car itself become a voltage regulator? Did Buffett buy into BYD for the auto or for the storage capacitors?
BYD Auto has 1,000 engineers working on this, compared to General Motors 200 engineers.