While the recent, unexpected economic slump has negatively affected almost every market in the world, the electric car industry is bouncing back faster than it takes a battery to charge with some major announcements this week that give promise to an electrified future on global roads.
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s second richest man, announced that Russia will release three electric car prototypes in December. His own company, the Onexim Group, will invest over 200 million dollars in the project and will set up several production facilities in Russia and abroad. They are hoping to see the first factory up and running by January 2011 and have full scale production starting mid 2012. If this venture is successful, it could be one of the government’s most successful steps in reducing the country’s reliance on scarce national resources. This announcement comes at a strategically advantageous time for car company EVCARCO, who announced just last month that they will be opening their European headquarters in Moscow later next year.
Chinese electronics company BYD, one of the world’s largest producers of cell phone batteries, has good reason to celebrate. They just acquired a rather substantial investment by well-respected economic rule-maker Warren Buffett. Mr. Buffett was so impressed and intrigued by the company’s drive for success and innovation, that he invested 230 million dollars in BYD’s electric car industry.
BYD only recently added the production of electric cars to their repertoire in 2003 when they bought a defunct state-owned car company. Although their electric vehicles are found primarily in China right now, their E6 model will see a small US distribution later this year with expanded production planned for 2012. The E6 is entirely battery operated and will cost about forty thousand US dollars.
So why the sudden, and rather surprising, investment in this electric car company? BYD founder Wang Chuan-Fu said it best when he told Mr. Buffett they will “never, never rest.” Buffett is confident in the electric car market and so should you be. Even with the recent collapse in the economy, the electric car industry is bouncing back as more people are noticing that a dependence on dwindling natural resources is not something we can do forever. Alternative fuel options are becoming more available and affordable for the everyday person, and as more investors, like Buffett enter into this game, look for more improvements coming your way.
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