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China car and battery maker may triple delivery of EVs

Bloomberg News

BYD Co., the Warren Buffett-backed Chinese car-and-battery manufacturer, may boost deliveries of electric vehicles by as much as three times this year in its home market, underscoring the rising demand that’s prompting Tesla Motors Inc. to step up its expansion.

BYD may sell as many as 150,000 new-energy vehicles this year, compared with the 58,000 it delivered in 2015, Chairman Wang Chuanfu said at a briefing in Hong Kong. The company surged the most in more than five months in intraday trading in Hong Kong after predicting first-quarter profit may rise more than 50 percent from a year earlier.

China has stepped up the building of charging infrastructure and rolled out incentives to encourage automakers and consumers to switch to electric vehicles as part of a broader initiative to mitigate the toll that rising car ownership is exacting on the environment. Industrywide EV sales surged more than threefold to 331,000 units last year as the government pushes to reach its target of having five million of the vehicles on its roads by the end of the decade.

“The Chinese government has more comprehensive policy support on new-energy cars than other governments, leading to the industry’s explosive development last year,” said Wang. “The rapid growth will remain from 2016 to 2018.”

BYD, which counts Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. as a shareholder, reported full-year net income rose almost sevenfold to 2.82 billion yuan ($433 million) from a year earlier. Its sales of new-energy vehicles, the term China uses to describe electric vehicles and plug-in gasoline-electric autos, jumped three times to 58,000 units last year.

For Tesla, the rising sales of battery-powered cars signal a rising acceptance by consumers for electric cars. The automaker said last month that it has started taking orders for its Model X in China with deliveries to begin in the second quarter, giving customers in the world’s largest auto market access to the new sport utility vehicle before it debuts in Europe.