In 2013, Warren Buffett-backed BYD Auto(pronounced Bee-Yeah-Dee)sold more cars than any other Chinese domestic brand, according to China Auto Web.
In that same period of time, BYD generated an $US89 million profit.
Since Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway made a $US230 million investment in BYD for a 10% stake in 2008, the automaker has been propelled by the success of the compact F3 sedan, of which it has sold more than 1 million vehicles.
First introduced in 2008, the F3 and its budget-friendly $US8,800 price tag have been popular with cab companies and first-time car buyers. As a car, the F3 is for the most part unremarkable; however, its styling has an immediate sense of familiarity.
Even though many modern car designs are derivative, BYD’s designers seem to have taken this to the extreme by cobbling together something that looks like the front end of a Toyota Corolla and the rear end of a Honda City sedan. Drive Arabia called the car “insultingly similar” to the Corolla and City, and The Truth About Cars noted, “BYD’s F3 received worldwide acclaim for being a Corolla ripoff.”
Indeed, the F3’s front bears a striking resemblance to the Corolla E120 model, with matching headlight clusters and grill.
Check out a comparison, with the 2003-2006 Toyota Corolla on top and the 2012 BYD F3 on bottom:
In addition to the front of the car, BYD’s F3 interior is similar to Corolla’s, complete with matching dashboards, center consoles, HVAC controls, and vents.
Here, the 2012 BYD F3 is shown on top, and the 2003-2006 Toyota Corolla is on the bottom.
The rear end of the F3 looks strangely similar to the Honda City sedan sold in Asia from 2002-2008. The F3 and the City appear to have matching curved tail lights, each with a white dual-element inlay. The two cars also share similarities in the design of their deck-lids and trunk latch handles.
Here, a 2012 BYD F3 is show on top, and a 2002-2008 Honda City is shown below.
For propulsion, BYD turned to Mitsubishi’s workhorse 4G-series four-cylinder engines for early version of the F3, while later models use the company’s own engine designs.
As a consumer product, the F3 is far from polished. While the automaker can imitate Toyota’s design, it can’t match the Japanese auto giant’s high-quality execution. According to The Wall Street Journal, J.D. Powers gave BYD products a “below industry average” ranking. In fact, consumer backlash over quality control problems at the BYD partly caused the company’s profit tumble in 2012 before rebounding a year later.
Recently, BYD designers got a little more original with the reveal of the all-new 2014 F3. As the production lifecycle of the existing F3 winds down, the new F3 (shown below) will soon take over as BYD’s volume sales leader.
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