Monday, July 27, 2009

BYD aims to sell 700,000 vehicles in 2010

* Aims to sell 75 pct more vehicles in 2010 from 2009 target

* To invest in new energy model bus and coach manufacturing

* BYD expects 2025 vehicle sales to reach 8-9 mln units

* Shares up 8.5 pct in broader market up 1.3 pct

(Adds company statement and share price)

By James Pomfret and Joanne Chiu SHENZHEN, July 27 (Reuters) - China's BYD Co Ltd (1211.HK: Quote, Profile, Research), a battery maker that aspires to be a leading electric vehicle producer, has set its 2010 vehicle sales target at 700,000 units, quadruple its sales in 2008, a senior executive said on Monday.

BYD Auto, a unit of the rechargeable battery maker partly owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research), sold 170,000 vehicles in 2008 and aims to sell 400,000 units this year, according to Henry Li, general manager of BYD Auto's export arm. Li said vehicle production capacity will double every year for the next few years and that he expects vehicle sales to reach 8-9 million units by 2025.

The company also expects half of its total vehicle production capacity will be exported by 2025.

"Exports will account for a minimal portion (of sales) of several thousand to 10,000 units this year," said Li.

"This is because of the financial crisis overseas; we are focused on domestic growth," he told Reuters in an interview.

BYD has developed rechargeable electric vehicles that it hopes will eventually compete with the likes of General Motors [GM.UL], Renault (RENA.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) and Toyota Motor (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research).

The company also said late on Sunday evening that it will buy a bus and coach maker, Hunan Midea Coach, for 60 million yuan. It will invest and develop a production base with annual output of about 400,000 units of vehicles and components in the Hunan Environmental Industrial Park.

For company statement please read here

Shares in BYD, which began life as a maker of rechargeable batteries but now also makes mobile phones and automobiles, rose 8.5 percent in a broader Hong Kong market up 1.3 percent.

The stock has more than tripled in 2009, outperforming a 40 percent jump on the benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI.

Berkshire Hathaway invested $230 million last September for a 10 percent stake in BYD in a move seen as a stamp of approval for the firm little-known outside of China and Hong Kong, analysts said.

(Additional reporting by Fang Yan; Editing by Don Durfee and Lincoln Feast)

((james.pomfret@thomsonreuters.com; +852 2843 6390; Reuters Messaging: james.pomfret.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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