Electric cars might soon be easier to acquire in China.
The Denza electric car, built by a 50-50 joint venture between Daimler and BYD Co., may be sold through one of China's largest dealer groups. The holding company, Shenzen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., plans to announce its alliance with Zhongsheng Group Holdings, which would add Denza dealers in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen by the end of July.
BYD has been selling its B6 electric car under its own brand and the joint venture announced in April that it expects to begin deliveries of its first Denzas in mid-2014. Under the joint-venture agreement, Daimler is providing knowledge in EV architecture and safety, and BYD is bringing batteries and the e-drive system to the Denza EV.
The dealership alliance is a step forward for BYD Daimler. The two automakers joined forces in 2010. The companies plan a lineup of EVs under the Denza brand, starting with the E6 built on the platform from the first-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class.
Like other parts of the world, sales of EVs in China have been slow, even with government incentives. Yet, the competition is growing. SAIC Motor Corp., China's largest automaker, launched its Roewe E50 electric car in November and SAIC will be rolling out other EVs with its foreign partners.
China's third-largest automotive group, Donfeng Motors, has been through fits and starts bringing its Fengshen E30 EV (a localized Nissan Leaf) to market. It will be competing directly with the Roewe E50. The race is on.