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BYD Auto Targets U.S. Debut for 2012

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - On Monday, I sat down with Paul Lin, a spokesman, for BYD Auto Company Ltd at the Detroit Auto Show. He revealed to me that the company is planning on coming to America in 2012. It's time for American investors to start playing closer attention to this company.

In some ways, BYD -- which stands for "Build Your Dreams" -- is the least known company that most people know Warren Buffett has invested in. The best known investor in the world discovered the company a few years ago and took a big stake.

Part of the reason why BYD still has a low profile is that the stock isn't traded over here -- only in Hong Kong under the ticker "1211." What doesn't trade here tends to be overlooked, whether it's Tencent Holdings in the China's Internet space (which has a bigger market capitalization than Baidu (BIDU) or BYD in the auto space.

At the time of Buffett's investment, the Chinese auto market wasn't on the radar of most investors. Today, it's the biggest in the world, surpassing the U.S. last year with no signs of slowing down. Although there is enormous competition in the market, including a strong presence from Toyota (TM), Volkswagen, and General Motors (GM), BYD is a hometown success story.

The Shenzhen-based company has decided to bring its E6 electric-powered compact to the U.S. market in the first quarter of 2012. It showed off the vehicle and several of the other electric-based cars in Detroit this week. The company has no specific targets on the number of vehicles they want to sell here in 2012 and 2013, but they clearly have global ambitions and aren't satisfied with simply selling their cars in China.

The company sees its biggest competition for the E6 in the U.S. coming from the Nissan Leaf. BYD believes that the E6 will have much better range (i.e., how far the car will drive when fully charged) and an attractive price. It hasn't released pricing for the U.S., but the E6 sells for between US $22,000 to U.S. $25,000 in China after government rebates have been applied.

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