HAVANA, July 3 When Cubans open the flood gates to American tourists, the modern, electric vehicle fleets they see on the roads alongside the tradition cars from the 1950s would have been built in China and not Japan, not the U.S.
On Friday, Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD (Build Your Dreams) said it will supply Cuba’s tourism industry with something like 719 EV sedans. The order was signed in Havana on July 3 between Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Wang Chuanfu, BYD CEO, and Xu Qin, Mayor of Shenzhen where BYD is located.
Cuba is buying a fleet of fuel efficient cars to support its growing tourist industry. The order for its first 719 vehicles will be Cuba’s first fleet of tourist rental vehicles and BYD’s largest vehicle order in the Cuban market.
BYD said in a statement that all vehicles in the fleet will be BYD models, namely the sedans Suri, L3 and G6, the SUV S6, and the MPV M6.
BYD’s press office could not be reached for further comment.
BYD first appeared in the Cuban market last November with its F3 sedan and S6 SUV during the Havana International Expo. The S6 model won the Exhibition’s Design Award.
The Cuban government purchased 40 BYD passenger cars last year for tourism, but the Diaz said Cuba might eventually expand its order for government official vehicles. The retail market has not been developed.
BYD said it will build an after-sales service center in Cuba at some point in the near-future.
BYD’s claim to fame began when Warren Buffet announced he acquired a 10% stake in the company through his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway in September 2008. Since then, the stock listed on the Hong Kong exchange is up 355.05%. It’s up 33.3% year-to-date, beating Toyota and Tesla.
BYD got its start in the 1990s as a mobile phone battery maker. It has since evolved into producing hybrid and electric vehicles, with most of its bus line products being acquired by northern European governments.
The group plans to take on Tesla in the electronic car and EV battery market, backed by the smarts and the financial muscle of Buffet to make it happen.
Beyond Cuba, China’s recent green initiatives, including higher taxation on polluting industries, bodes especially well for BYDs future. Shanghai police recently placed orders for BYD sedans.
At a simple stroke of the Chinese government’s pen, BYD could be firing on all four cylinders if state and municipal governments opted to replace taxis or diesel fuel burning busses with BYD vehicles.