BYD DIVERSIFIES IN CHINA'S MONORAIL MARKET
BYD Co says to be in talks with several of China's smaller cities on building monorail systems to pre-empt traffic congestion spurred by rapid growth in automobile ownership.
Monorail systems are a potential 3 trillion yuan ($450 billion) market in China, based on an average 70-kilometer (43.5-mile) network in each of an estimated 300 cities, and will become a new major growth area for the company, according to Chairman Wang Chuanfu.
The elevated single-rail tracks can be built on road dividers and are especially suited for smaller, less-developed cities because they cost one-sixth the price of a subway system and are cheaper to maintain, Wang said.
With the number of vehicles growing at an average annual rate of 15 percent in such cities, these urban areas are on course for the same gridlock gripping major Chinese cities like Beijing if they don't adopt light transit, he said.
After transforming BYD into a top seller of electric vehicles in China, Wang is steering the company into monorail as an area where he sees high barriers to entry and fewer competitors.
The foray is taking place as industry sales of EVs tripled last year, attracting a wave of startups that plan to build battery-powered cars.
Monorails elsewhere in Asia include the system operated by Bangkok's BTS Group Holdings, which uses 208 railcars built by Siemens AG and CRRC Corp. in Thailand's capital, according to its website. BYD's competitors in monorail-making include Bombardier Inc. and Hitachi Ltd., Wang said.
BYD will utilize its core technology in EVs, batteries and materials to build the monorail systems, which will be paid for by local governments, he said.
The company will begin operating a 4.4-kilometer line at its base in the southeastern China city of Shenzhen in September, he said. An eight-carriage train will be able to carry 1,600 standing passengers.