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[YesAuto Technology] On October 21, 2015, during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK, BYD’s world’s first zero-emission pure electric double-decker bus was unveiled at Lancaster Palace in London, UK. BYD Group President Wang Chuanfu accompanied President Xi Jinping, Prince William and Princess Kate boarded this pure electric double-decker bus together for a visit. BYD also signed a £660 million cooperation agreement with British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis. It should be said that Wang Chuanfu and his BYD has made substantial profits.

However, in the domestic market, this local car manufacturer in Shenzhen has always had a strong topicality in the hearts of Chinese people. Some people love it crazy, others disdain it, and others just talk about it. Cynicism. Whenever news about BYD appears, it inevitably triggers a controversy. Today, many people, including us, still only know about BYD’s background in mobile phone batteries, Buffett’s investment, and some personal anecdotes about its head Wang Chuanfu. Therefore, shortly after BYD won the British project, we prepared this trip to Shenzhen, hoping to understand this company from another angle.

“Battery King” set foot in the automotive industry

-Why does BYD build a car?

Before entering the car market, BYD, which started with batteries, did not have any relevant experience. After getting the first investment in 1995 to 2002, BYD spent 7 years in the battery field and has achieved the first position in China and the second in the world. At the same time, through capital operation, it successfully listed in Hong Kong and obtained a large sum of money. Financing. In the eyes of outsiders, this company has been successful enough, and the car does not seem to have much overlap with its battery business.

After BYD has grown in the battery field, Sanyo, which ranks first in the industry, has gradually begun to pay attention to this rival from Shenzhen, China, and has gradually carried out technological transformations to further narrow the gap between BYD and BYD in terms of manufacturing costs. At the same time, due to the battery industry The threshold is not high. During that period, hundreds of large and small battery companies were launched in China. They are all copying BYD’s low-cost success method; more importantly, because the price of electronic products is changing every year. Decline, the profit of the battery industry is also gradually falling. Therefore, although BYD is favored by all parties, it faces a competitive environment of internal and external troubles, and will also encounter bottlenecks in the battery manufacturing industry.

At this point in time, Wang Chuanfu did see the hidden worries of the company's future development, so he was also thinking about how to expand the business area of the company. Mobile phones must not be made because they cannot compete with downstream customers; home appliances cannot be made because competition is too fierce; real estate cannot be made because the threshold is too low. Anyone who has money can enter. Wang Chuanfu hopes to find a field with higher thresholds, fewer players, less competition, and greater market potential and living space. After some screening, the automotive industry best meets Wang Chuanfu's requirements.

-How to achieve “cross-border” car building?

The Chinese auto market, which has just entered the 21st century, is at the beginning of the “blowout” of purchasing power. In 2000, SAIC-GM Buick launched a 100,000-yuan joint-venture sedan, and in 2002, Shanghai Volkswagen launched the POLO synchronized with the international market. Stimulated domestic demand for household car purchases. Soon, China has become the world's largest and most potential auto market. Whether it is an international auto giant or domestic private capital, facing such a huge “cake”, they are all eager to try.

Headquartered in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, Qinchuan Automobile Company was the only company approved by the state to produce cars in the northwest region at that time. It was a joint venture formed by the Shaanxi Provincial Government and China National Ordnance Industry Corporation. It is both a state-owned enterprise and a military industrial enterprise. After 2000, Qinchuan Automobile, one of the “Four Major Altos” of the year, launched a self-developed Flyer sedan and achieved good sales. However, due to its background, good sales volume did not bring profits to Qinchuan Automobile. In 2002, Qinchuan began to fall into a capital dilemma, unable to rely on its own strength to continue to gain a foothold in the market and began to seek cooperation with foreign parties.

The first person interested in Qinchuan was Li Shufu, the first private car company in China, and his Geely. However, Geely was only interested in Qinchuan’s “birth permit” and did not want to invest a large amount of money to reorganize Qinchuan Automobile, so it took the initiative to retreat. After Li Shufu left, Qin Chuan ushered in Brilliance Group again, but in the end it was nothing.

The exit of two powerful buyers is a rare opportunity for BYD. More importantly, at that time Qinchuan already had four advanced vehicle production lines, including the stamping line provided by FAGOR in Spain, the stamping die and welding production line provided by Ogihara Company of Japan, and the German Dürr ( DURR) and the whole vehicle inspection line provided by BENZAI. However, compared with technical conditions, Wang Chuanfu valued the R&D capabilities of Qinchuan people in the Flyer project more. Therefore, despite the pressure from various quarters, Wang Chuanfu is still determined to acquire Qinchuan.

Although Wang Chuanfu and BYD had money at the time, and Qinchuan did need money, the people in Qinchuan didn’t just want to “sell shells” in exchange for a certain amount of money. They valued Qinchuan and even the Northwest after the acquisition. For the development of the automobile industry, BYD must show sufficient sincerity and strength to impress the people of Qinchuan.

The development history of BYD Design

-F3: The secret behind “plagiarism”

Despite being looked down upon by the outside world, BYD has become the second private car company in China after Geely. After 2003-2004, the “outsiders” of Oaks, Amoi, Bird and other car manufacturers saw the attractive business opportunities in the Chinese car market and entered the field of car manufacturing one after another. In the eyes of outsiders, BYD, which started in battery production and obtained the qualifications for automobile production by acquiring Qinchuan, is no different from the above-mentioned companies. However, within the company, a series of R&D departments have been established, which truly shows how to make cars. Posture.

Mr. Lian Yubo, now the senior vice president of BYD Auto Sales, the current vice president of BYD Co., Ltd., the chief engineer of the automotive industry group, and the director and chief executive officer of Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd., was acquired by BYD as early as After Qin Chuan, moved by Wang Chuanfu's concept of mastering core technology, he resigned from his original position to help BYD set up an R&D center and served as the head of the design center.

Counting from the time of establishment, BYD's design center can be regarded as one of the earlier design agencies established by domestic auto companies. Lian Yubo brought a group of key designers from the Tongji Tongjie Automobile Design Company he founded to BYD to engage in vehicle design and development. However, compared with the domestic auto industry that has just started, domestic car design capabilities are also immature. Domestic designers often lack experience, so the early works of BYD Design Center are not considered successful.

Since the previously launched products were not successful, Wang Chuanfu decided to adopt the “reverse development” method, which is to learn from mature and successful products in the market first. However, BYD's step was very extreme, and the F3 model directly “reversed”. For the Toyota Corolla, it is only distinguished from the Corolla in some details, such as the front and rear lights, and the shape of the taillights also comes from the sedan fit at that time. After the F3 was launched, BYD set a very low price for it. Consumers can directly buy a compact car that resembles the Toyota Corolla at the price of a small car. Therefore, the market feedback is very good.

Looking back, BYD F3 is still a successful product, because it has achieved the initial accumulation of BYD cars, but it has also caused a lot of damage to the BYD brand. Today's Lian Yubo does not shy away from this: “Although F3 has a good sales volume, I don't think it is a good work. We also admit the design reference.” Lian Yubo said frankly, in When it first entered the auto industry, BYD didn't control the needs of consumers well internally. In other words, BYD didn't know what kind of cars would be popular at the time.

-Self-designed progress

Another reason for the inability to carry out independent development in the early stage is the backwardness of technology and craftsmanship. This backwardness is reflected in both design and development technology and production technology. In the design, the software used by the BYD Design Center cannot even accurately model and simulate the surface of the car body, so many of the designer’s creativity is not well reflected; and the production process, especially the stamping die and welding. , Nor can it produce the designer’s relatively radical ideas.

In the early days, when designers and engineering teams “conflict”, the company will require more designers to make compromises. After all, objective conditions are difficult to meet overly complex design requirements. However, with the improvement of the body manufacturing process, especially after BYD gradually mastered the design and manufacture of body molds, Lian Yubo encouraged his designers to stick to his point of view: “Now that the mold technology is available, the level of stamping and welding has come up. , We need to let designers promote the progress of the process through design-when the engineering team finally realizes those challenging designs, it is an improvement to the technology.”

Currently, BYD has more than 120 designers in its Shenzhen headquarters, and it will remain the center of BYD's design in the future, and there is no plan to set up a large-scale design agency overseas. In terms of design team building, Lian Yubo said that BYD will insist on cultivating its own design talents: “In fact, since I came to BYD with the designers of Tongjie, we have not hired or “digged” other people’s designs. Teacher, we always believe that the designers we train ourselves can do well.”

-Wang Chuanfu has “one-vote veto”?

When talking about design with President Lian, we thought of a question that was of great interest to many people: As the president of BYD, will Wang Chuanfu participate in the decision-making of new car design? Does he have a veto power on the design proposal? In fact, similar to the approach adopted by many OEMs in the development of new models, after receiving the design task of the new model, the BYD Design Center will also require each design team to submit a proposal and conduct an internal bidding, and then the design center will select Several (usually three) candidate solutions are submitted to the company's senior management, sales department heads and dealer representatives for final review, and the final winning solution is selected for engineering development.

In the final review of the several proposals submitted, Wang Chuanfu will also participate and express his opinions, and even has full decision-making power. In Lian Yubo’s view, this is actually normal: “The exterior and interior design of the model is very important. , Will affect the sales of a car. As the leader of the company, Mr. Wang is responsible for the sales of the products. Neither the designer nor the leader of the design center can bear this responsibility.” However, he also admitted that with The working time is getting longer and longer, and the tacit understanding between the Design Center and Wang Chuanfu has also grown. Therefore, there has been almost no case of rejection of works in recent years.

The transformation of powertrain

-Don't be a car company without a “heart”

Although BYD F3 initially won the favor of low-end users with its appearance similar to Toyota Corolla and low price, until 2008, BYD had been using purchased engine and gearbox products. Because of this, BYD has also been ridiculed by many people as a “car company without a heart.” At the end of 2007, Zhang Jintao, who was responsible for the manufacture of battery production equipment, was ordered to start the development and research of powertrains.

Zhang Jintao introduced that although BYD models represented by F3 continued to sell well at that time, the engines of the vehicles had been purchased from Dongan Mitsubishi. Although it was not a complete seller's market at that time, because Dongan supplied engine products to many domestic companies, sellers had more initiative in the transaction link. According to Zhang Jintao's recollection, in those years, at the end of each year, Wang Chuanfu had to visit Dong'an in person, “activities and exchanges of feelings” to ensure that he could get the supplies he needed in the next year.

“The three years since 2008 is the first stage of our powertrain research and development. The first thing we need to solve is the issue of BYD's powertrain.” In order to solve the issue of “Is there or not” first, The 17th Division of BYD, which Zhang Jintao is in charge of, first started with a naturally aspirated engine and a manual gearbox. In the end, it took them three years to basically complete the research and development of a series of four-cylinder naturally aspirated engines and manual gearboxes with different displacements. At the same time, they also completed the basic layout of engine and gearbox production equipment and production lines. With its own powertrain, BYD's model production is no longer restricted by outsourcing powertrain.

-TID technology comes from the public?

When the powertrain is no longer subject to outsourcing restrictions, BYD has entered the second phase of powertrain research and development. In this stage, Zhang Jintao and his development team set the goal for the development of turbocharged engines and dual-clutch gearboxes. When talking about this stage, Zhang Jintao did not deny that he had learned from the mature technology platform at the time: “If we really start research and development from scratch, it is obviously unrealistic. We must also learn from some other manufacturers' products at that time. When we develop our own products, on the one hand, we must learn from other people’s technologies, and on the other hand, we must carefully avoid some patents to avoid infringement.”

At the beginning of the development of the dual-clutch gearbox, considering the wide coverage of Volkswagen products, the large number of users, and the good reputation of users at that time, BYD first chose Volkswagen’s dry DSG technology platform as its reverse development. Reference template. In the early stage of development, other car companies were not optimistic about BYD, thinking that Zhang Jintao and his team could not develop a dual-clutch gearbox by themselves. However, as BYD continues to increase investment and when the product is about to come out, BYD's dual clutch has received “containment” from international car companies and suppliers.

According to Zhang Jintao’s recollection, when BYD’s 6DT25 dry dual-clutch gearbox was verified, many suppliers notified BYD that they would not be able to supply parts for this gearbox because they received legal letters from some traditional customers that were not allowed. They supply BYD. Therefore, BYD’s technicians began to research and manufacture some key components. In the end, they overcame most of the technical difficulties of the dual-clutch gearbox and completed the development of the entire project.

After mastering the direct injection turbocharged engine and dual-clutch gearbox technology, BYD has introduced a 2.0T engine and a three-cylinder 1.2T engine, as well as a wet dual-clutch gearbox that can withstand higher torque. In market promotion, BYD called the combination of the new engine and gearbox TID, with turbocharging, in-cylinder direct injection and dual-clutch gearbox as the technical highlights of the model, thus establishing its own image of “technological BYD”.

-“China Development Federation” squeezes out BYD?

In April 2008, under the leadership of the National Development and Reform Commission, 12 domestic auto companies including FAW, SAIC, Dongfeng, and Changan jointly established China Development Federation, hoping to overcome the core problems of DCT with a joint development model. In November of the same year, China Development United and BorgWarner jointly established BorgWarner Dual Clutch Transmission Co., Ltd., a well-known international component supplier and one of the main providers of dual clutch modules. It is worth noting that there is no BYD in the member list of China Development Federation.

Many friends who care about the auto industry quickly discovered this, and they speculated that when the “China Development Federation” was established, the internal members collectively “isolated” BYD and excluded BYD from the China Development Federation, and BYD fought alone. The dual-clutch gearbox was developed before Zhongfalian and was first introduced to the market. Regarding this period of history, Zhang Jintao recalled that, in fact, China Development Alliance also contacted BYD at the beginning of its establishment, but because BYD had already put the dual clutch project on the development schedule at that time, China Development Alliance’s progress was slightly slower than BYD; At the same time, BYD initially cooperated with Luk in the development of dry dual-clutch transmissions, which are different from the wet dual-clutch transmissions of China Development and Development using BorgWarner technology; in addition, because it is a joint development model, China Development and Alliance finally The target product developed is just a basic sample. Each car company also needs to carry out secondary development and matching for their respective models and power units. BYD believes that this is inefficient and cannot meet its own needs, so it declined. Send an invitation to join.

-Electric car = battery + four wheels?

Geely founder Li Shufu’s famous saying “a car is a sofa plus four wheels” is widely circulated in China, but few people know that Wang Chuanfu also thought that an electric car is just a large battery plus four wheel. This kind of thought came into being when he planned to get involved in automobile manufacturing. However, at the stage of not fully solving the traditional powertrain, BYD’s exploration of hybrid models was not successful. However, after conquering TID, the plug-in hybrid powertrain became the main part of BYD’s seventeenth division. Tackling tough projects.

The dismal end of F3DM and F6DM did not dampen Wang Chuanfu’s determination to develop plug-in hybrid models. After possessing the second-generation powertrain technology, Wang Chuanfu asked Zhang Jintao’s technical team to add electric motors and power to the TID system. With batteries, a new generation of DM dual-mode hybrid system with strong power, low fuel consumption, and long-distance pure electric driving has been developed.

Finally, after a period of research and development and matching, the third phase of BYD powertrain research and development results: the second-generation DM dual-mode hybrid power system officially entered the market at the end of 2013. The first model equipped with this system is the BYD Qin. As the first product equipped with the second-generation DM dual-mode system, Qin pioneered BYD’s dynasty naming. At the same time, with the addition of the 1.5T direct-injection engine and dual-clutch gearbox, Qin became a powerful company at the beginning of the market Power is promoted as two points of its products, which is completely different from traditional hybrid models. After Qin, BYD launched the four-wheel drive model BYD Tang based on the DM dual-mode system. Unlike Qin, Tang added an electric motor to the rear axle of the vehicle on the basis of the original power system. This achieves the effect of an electric four-wheel drive and at the same time improves Tang's acceleration performance.

Due to its own strength and the help of national and local environmental protection policies, BYD’s Qin and Tang models have been recognized by domestic consumers. It can be said that as the country pays more and more attention to the development of new energy models, BYD has also quickly found Position itself.

to sum up:

In 2003, when Wang Chuanfu communicated with Lian Yubo, the then deputy general manager of Tongji Tongjie Company, he once said: “I plan to build a car in my next life!” In fact, Wang Chuanfu and his company have been making mobile phone batteries. Based on mastering the core technology, we will continuously improve the technical content of the products, so as to occupy a place in the market. After more than ten years of hard work, BYD not only did not fail in the auto industry as many people predicted at the time, but with its own unique strength-battery technology, it has been widely recognized at home and abroad in the field of new energy vehicles.

However, compared with battery production, automobile manufacturing has higher technical content and is more complex. The success of automobile products cannot only rely on appearance design and power system, but also requires strong safety guarantees and sufficient convenience and comfort. . In the next issue, we will bring more stories behind the scenes of BYD.