Detroit, Michigan – Two Chinese automakers plan to unveil new vehicles at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. Brilliance Auto, BMW’s Chinese partner, will make its first appearance at the NAIAS, and its first appearance at any North American auto show. BYD, which made its debut at NAIAS 2008, is back for a return engagement.
Brilliance and BYD have not yet revealed details of their vehicle debuts. Brilliance has appeared at shows in its native China as well as in Europe, where it currently sells vehicles. The automaker intends to eventually sell vehicles in the U.S. In China, Brilliance builds the 3 Series and 5 Series for BMW to sell in that country. It also builds and sells its own Zhonghua brand of vehicles. A Brilliance subsidiary builds Toyota models under license for the Chinese market.
BYD – which translates to Build Your Dreams – is a young company, established in 1995 as a battery maker. It quickly has become one of the world’s largest producers of rechargeable batteries and claims a 30 per cent share of the world’s cell phone battery market.
In 2003, BYD entered China’s burgeoning car business by buying bankrupt government-owned automaker Qinchan. While the automaker has established a presence at other international auto shows in China and Europe, the NAIAS is the only show at which BYD has exhibited.
BYD recently got a shot in the arm when American billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings paid $230 million for a 10 per cent stake in the automaker to support its green technologies. BYD, using its immense battery expertise, is developing electric-hybrid cars that it expects to sell in China later this year, Europe and Israel by 2010 and eventually North America.