China's BYD hopes for turnaround with Si Rui sedan

Associated Press Modified: November 23, 2012 at 3:45 am •  Published: November 23, 2012
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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.

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