Chinese self-made billionaire Wang Chuanfu speaks to Andrew Stevens on this week‘s ‘Talk Asia’ in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Wang’s ambition is to make his company, BYD (‘Build Your Dreams’) into the world’s biggest automaker by 2025. He takes Stevens on a tour of the BYD factory floor and a test-drive of a prototype vehicle, while giving his insights into the future of the automobile industry and defending the “Made in China” label.
Car sales in China have surpassed the United States for the past three months, putting China on track to be the world’s largest auto market. “In 10 years, if China wants to achieve the goal of consuming 20 million automobiles, it won’t be a problem. That would make it the biggest market in the world. A very huge market,” Wang said.
The 43-year-old entrepreneur is unfazed by domestic competition from the likes of Chery – another major carmaker in China – or from other Asian, American or European manufacturers. “The competition is pretty tough. But BYD is very confident. Our production cost and quality are far more advanced than our competitors.”
BYD created the world’s first mass produced plug-in hybrid model last year, running on both electricity and fuel and Wang talks proudly about his prize product: “The hybrid cars can save gas, but cannot be charged with electricity. The plug-ins can both save gas, and be charged.” He adds that charging them is easy: “Human beings need to rest for seven hours every night, and overnight charging also needs seven hours. So it’s as easy as charging your cell phone. You can absolutely charge your car at home.”
Wang envisions a motoring revolution fuelled by electric vehicles: “When we attended the 2009 Detroit Auto Show in January, almost every car manufacturer had scheduled to promote their electric vehicles in the next few years. When everyone is talking about the same thing, we know it will become a trend. It is a signal for change.”
The Chinese entrepreneur also defends the ‘Made in China’ label: “We have to look at this from different angles. We are not concerned about it. Our products have never been recalled, unlike many of our competitors. Judging from that, products made in China are sometimes better than those made elsewhere.”