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Chinese Automaker Begins Selling Mass-Produced Plug-in Hybrid

December 22, 2008

SHENZHEN, China --- Last week, BYD Auto became the world's first automaker to sell a mass-produced plug-in hybrid car.

The Chinese company unveiled its F3 Dual Mode hybrid vehicle in Shenzhen, China. The F3DM can be charged from a wall outlet. It has a range of about 60 miles on a full battery charge, according to a New York Times report.

It takes about seven hours to fully charge the lithium-ion batteries. But drivers also have the option of recharging 50 percent at special stations --- that takes just 10 minutes.

"The development of electric-powered vehicles is the best way for the Chinese auto industry to surpass other leading countries," BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu told reporters at the unveiling ceremony. The F3DM, priced at about $22,000, is being marketed primarily to government agencies and corporate customers.

BYD originally began as a manufacturer of cellphone batteries. It entered the auto manufacturing business in 2003. In September of this year, Warren Buffett bought 9.9 percent of the firm.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Wang said the company plans to sell 350,000 total vehicles in 2009, almost twice the number it will have sold this year.

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