BYD diversifies to EV components and mask manufacturing

GlobalData Energy 30 March 2020 (Last Updated March 30th, 2020 10:32)

BYD diversifies to EV components and mask manufacturing

BYD, the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker, backed by Warren Buffett, has started offering a full range of EV components to its competitors and start-up auto manufacturers. This is the part of the company diversification plan to increase its revenue in this phase of the coronavirus outbreak, which has shrivelled EV demands. The bold new plan in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak to sell electric vehicle parts to rivals comes even as the company seeks to redefine safety standards with a new ‘Blade’ lithium iron phosphate electric vehicle (EV) battery. The Shenzhen-based company plans to provide electric car batteries, powertrains, lights and other components. BYD, China’s biggest maker of vehicles powered by alternative energy will use the brand name FinDreams for the parts business, which will have five main auto parts subsidiaries: FinDreams Vision, FinDreams Technology, FinDreams Moduling, FinDreams Battery, and FinDreams Powertrain. Electric car sales have been slumping in China since July, when the country reduced purchase subsidies, and the decline has been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.

BYD, which is financially more stable than most local EV competitors, is betting the new business will help it return to growth quicker even as the market contracts. It also expects that the FinDreams units will help change the role participants in Chinese auto industry play in the global new energy arena. One of the breakthroughs the company claims is the introduction of the FinDream’s battery sub-brand new ‘Blade’ lithium iron phosphate battery, which arranges cells in an array before insertion into the pack, resulting in a 50% improvement in use of space. Breaking from the traditional box-shaped pack, the super thin, flat battery also seeks to address concerns about EV battery safety.

The Blade battery provides higher advantages in terms of battery safety and energy density. The company has tested the Blade battery by penetrating it with nails – a test that would typically result in 200°C-400°C temperature on the surface of traditional lithium ion phosphate batteries leaving them open to potential thermal runaway events even though smoke or fire may be emitted. The Blade battery surface temperature has, however, only reached 30°C to 60°C, suggesting a much likelihood of thermal runaway. Also compared to an NMC lithium battery also used in the test, which was severely damaged and reached more than 500°C, the Blade battery does indeed appear to offer a vast improvement.

BYD plans to introduce the Blade battery globally and is in discussions with potential partners for the technology. The battery will be first introduced in the Han EV model, which is slated for launch by BYD by June 2020, forming the flagship model for the Chinese EV maker’s Dynasty series and offering 605km driving range according to BYD.

BYD, founded as a mobile phone battery maker, has been growing by expanding into new businesses over the past two decades. The company started car manufacturing in 2003 and rolled out its first vehicles powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries in 2006. It has since added electric buses, utility vehicles, energy storage equipments, monorail and insulated gate bipolar transistors to its offering.

As part of its latest expansion, BYD Company has opened the largest face mask plant in Shenzhen to fight the coronavirus outbreak. The plant is now running at full capacity and is able to produce 500,000 masks and 300,000 bottles of disinfectants per day. The company claims that the plant would allow the firm to alleviate severe shortage that has affected hospitals and agencies across China in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. With the company making about five to ten new mask-producing machines on a daily basis, the number of masks produced by BYD has increased from approximately 300,000 units to 500,000 units per day. A production line for high-quality face masks requires about 1,300 parts for various gears, chains, and rollers, 90% of which are BYD’s self-made parts. The company claims that the equipment used for production offers precision and quality that is much higher than what is commonly required to produce masks. According to the Chinese government’s quality inspection department, the quality of BYD’s masks is significantly better than similar masks in the industry.