China's BYD hopes for turnaround with Si Rui sedan

Nov 23, 2012 by Kelvin Chan
In this Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 photo, a model poses next to a BYD (Build Your Dream) Si Rui at the company's booth during the Guangzhou 2012 Auto Show in China's southern city of Guangzhou. Chinese automaker BYD Company may be hoping that Si Rui, the name for its new midsize sedan, translates into turnaround. The ailing company, which counts billionaire Warren Buffet as an investor, is banking on the new model to help spur a revival in sales. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

(AP)—Chinese automaker BYD Co. may be hoping that Si Rui (pronounced suh-ray), the name for its new midsize sedan, translates into turnaround. The ailing company, which counts billionaire Warren Buffett as an investor, is banking on the new model to help spur a revival in sales.

The car, which made its debut at the Guangzhou auto show this week in , is a follow up to the bestselling F3. That model was hugely popular with buyers in China partly thanks to now-discontinued government subsidies.

But the company's incoherent business strategy means it was an isolated success. BYD, which also makes and , was aggressive with its expansion into electric cars as Beijing announced the goal of making China a global power in electric car manufacturing. But the bet failed to pay off because of a lack of buyer interest and technological hurdles.

BYD and other Chinese carmakers have also been squeezed by growing numbers of foreign brands entering China's fast-growing , the world's biggest. BYD is hoping the Si Rui can help the company stand out against numerous other direct competitors in the hugely competitive smaller midsize slice of the market, which ranges from Geely's Emgrand line to the Volkswagen Santana and Citroen Elysee.

Here's more about the 2013 Si Rui:

PRICE: BYD has not yet released the sticker price for the Si Rui, which won't go on sale until next year. Analysts guess it will be somewhere around the 70,000 yuan ($11,200) level. That's about the same as the 630 sedan by Chevrolet's only-in-China brand Baojun.

POWER: A turbocharged 1.5 liter four-cylinder all-aluminum engine that pumps out 151 horsepower is the sole choice. BYD did not provide data but boasts that combined with the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, Si Rui "makes use of every drop of fuel." A six-speed manual gearbox is also available.

EXTERIOR: Chinese automakers are still catching up to their foreign rivals when it comes to design and judging from the Si Rui's looks, that's still the case. While it's sleeker and more modern than the F3, with angular headlights and sculpted lines, the Si Rui is still highly reminiscent of a Honda Accord or Toyota Corolla.

INTERIOR: Visitors to the Guangzhou auto show were unfortunately not allowed to look inside the one Si Rui model on display. But potential buyers will be comparing the quality of the dashboard, fabrics and fit and finish with foreign brands. Chinese carmakers have had a tough time raising their quality game and a close look at other BYD models on display showed they were, as the Chinese say, just "mama-huhu," or so-so, with plasticky door handles and inconsistent gaps between door and body.

TECH: A few high-tech touches will make the Si Rui appeal to gadget freaks. Drivers will be able to see in the dark thanks to a night vision system, which will display an enhanced view of the road ahead to the driver through a heads-up display on the dashboard. The dash also features a 10.2 inch touchscreen to control navigation, parking and entertainment systems. A 500 gigabyte hard drive can hold 1,000 movies and 100,000 songs.

NAME: Si Rui is a made-up word in Chinese. Its closest meaning would be "perceptive."

WHY IT MATTERS: BYD's third-quarter profit plunged 94 percent to 4.6 million yuan as the number of cars sold fell 18 percent year-on-year to 77,000. Clearly, having a hit in China's car market, which saw sales of 18.5 million vehicles last year, would be a huge help to BYD and investor Buffett, who spent $232 million on a 10 percent stake in 2008. The wisdom of that investment, which was based on the attractiveness of BYD's battery technology, now looks a bit doubtful.

Explore further: Netflix sues Yahoo CIO for alleged kickbacks

1 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Automakers go 'green' in Beijing

Apr 28, 2010

Dozens of carmakers are showing off "green" vehicles at the Beijing Auto Show as they position themselves for a hoped-for alternative-energy boom in the world's biggest auto market.

Carmakers look to an electric future in China

Apr 21, 2011

Major carmakers' high hopes for electric vehicles are on clear display at the Shanghai auto show, but industry leaders say it could be a decade before such eco-friendly cars go mainstream.

China's drive for 'green' cars hits roadblocks

Jan 18, 2012

Foreign and domestic car makers are struggling to sell environmentally friendly vehicles in China, the world's largest auto market, even as Beijing pumps billions into clean energy.

Beijing auto show to unveil cleaner cars

Apr 23, 2012

Carmakers at the Beijing auto show are due to unveil scores of clean energy vehicles as they try to convince Chinese customers to swap gas-guzzling SUVs for cleaner but slower and pricier options.

Recommended for you

Netflix sues Yahoo CIO for alleged kickbacks

5 hours ago

Netflix is suing a former company vice president who is now chief information officer at Yahoo, accusing him of receiving money from vendors he hired to work with the video streaming company.

BlackBerry courts iPhone users with cash

Nov 25, 2014

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is wooing Apple customers with a cash offer for trade-ins of iPhones for its new square-screened, keyboard-equipped Passport.

HP earnings show continued struggle

Nov 25, 2014

Venerable tech giant Hewlett-Packard has been struggling for three years to turn its business around. Its latest earnings show it still has more work ahead.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.