Olivier Boulay heads the new Mercedes design studio in Beijing charged with developing its first Sino-German car. But the car cant be a Mercedes: for a foreign business like Daimler to be able to produce in China, it has to have a Chinese majority partner.
Daimler picked BYD (Build Your Dreams), the worlds largest producer of batteries, with 60% of global market share, and one of Chinas fastest growing companies. The planned joint venture electric car of "Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. Ltd. should function exclusively on electricity. It will be relatively narrow, and high, so as to be able to navigate narrow city streets with ease.
Daimlers first car designed in China, made in China, and targeting a Chinese clientele is being developed with funding from the Chinese central government. The state will also subsidize purchases of the electro-mobile to the tune of 7,000 euros. The governments of some of the countrys largest cities will double that to encourage people to buy the car.
For a sales price of just over 20,000 euros, Chinese buyers are expecting a flexible multi-purpose vehicle. Boulay is supervising a dozen designers in the Beijing studio as they work on the exterior and the interior design of the as-yet nameless, five-seat car.
The car should be ready for presentation at the Beijing Motor Show in the spring of 2012. Mercedes technicians are in charge of all structural, safety and handling details as well as quality management during production, which will take place at a BYD factory in Shenzhen.
After launch, the Sino-German electric car is expected to be sold only in China, but with modifications could later be put on the export market. But were not there yet, says BYD CEO Wang Chuangfu. "Our home market is so huge, he says, "its enough for us in a first step to serve the Chinese market alone.
Read the full story in German by Jürgen Zöllter
Photo - Wikipedia
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