Mike Stevens | Jan 18, 2010

AUSTRALIA MAY SOON have a second Chinese carmaker entering the local market. News from Detroit this week suggests that China's BYD is investigating its options here.

With sales of over 450,000 cars in 2009, the Chinese carmaker is aiming for 800,000 sales in 2010. Speaking at Detroit, BYD's exports boss Henri Li told press that BYD could arrive in Australia in two to three years.

Mr Li said that BYD is in early discussion with potential importers, but that the lack of right-hand-drive models in the company's line-up will delay its aspirations in the Australian market until around 2012 or 2013.

Founded in 2003, BYD includes US investor Warren Buffet among its investors, the American injecting around $247 million into the company in 2009.

Speaking with Fortune magazine last year, Buffet described BYD's founder Wang Chuan-Fu as a combination of Thomas Edison and Fortune's "Manager of the Century": former GE boss Jack Welch.

"[He is] something like Edison in solving technical problems, and something like Welch in getting done what he needs to do. I have never seen anything like it," Buffet said.

byd_f3dm_02

In January last year, BYD unveiled the F3DM hybrid, powered by a 1.0 litre petrol engine and an electric motor. With a combined output of 124kW and 400Nm of torque, BYD claims the F3DM can achieve a driving range of around 580km.

BYD is not without its critics however. The company has been derided in the past for producing vehicles styled closely on the looks of models from manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.

The first Chinese carmaker to launch in Australia is Great Wall Motors, which introduced its X240 SUV and SA220 commercial utes locally last year.

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