Have you heard of BYD? Perhaps not, but they're major players in the world of green energy technology. They're the world's biggest manufacturer of rechargeable batteries, and it's highly likely that they're responsible for your phone's charger and keypad.
Their name might be relatively obscure in the UK, but BYD are the fastest-growing Chinese auto company, and they're recognised as a global pioneer in the field of such new energy vehicles as Dual Mode and Pure Electric models.
They've just launched an all-new hybrid car in China. It's called the BYD Qin, and it's designed to offer a balance of sporty performance and excellent fuel-efficiency. By as early as 2015, this model could make it to Europe. Though the car itself will likely be renamed, its manufacturer could become a household name yet.
The dual mode BYD Qin has a top speed of 115mph and can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds. Despite this, it reportedly has an overall fuel consumption of up to 177mpg, and is capable of up to 44 miles of pure electric driving, with an efficient BYD 1.5 litre TID petrol engine kicking in for the longer journeys.
All 100 initial BYD Qin models were sold in just two seconds, which is thought to be a new record in the motoring industry.
Reportedly, of the 23,405 people who were online at the time of sale, 6,000 were registered, of whom 4,155 rushed to make a purchase. Demand is high, and we'll doubtlessly see some models appearing at hugely-inflated prices on all the notorious car-touting websites soon. But what is it about the BYD Qin that's causing such a ruckus?
Perhaps it's the prestige of the company. These guys know their batteries, so it stands to reason that they'll also know their electric and hybrid cars. With the Qin, BYD give the driver a fantastic degree of control, with a choice of four fully matched driving modes: EV+ECO, EV+SPORT, HEV+ECO and HEV+SPORT.
Though the driver can choose between these modes to get their preferred blend of economy and performance, the standard operation of the powertrain is remarkably sophisticated. The battery can be charged at any normal household socket, but when the power runs low or there's a need for more acceleration, HEV mode kicks into life automatically. What's more, the BYD Qin battery can recharge itself during deceleration, either by means of engine braking or via the foot brake, to the tune of around 3kWh every 62 miles.
The BYD Qin promises safe, sensible and reliable green motoring, with a generous side ordering of sportiness. When you also factor in the Saloon levels of comfort and the undeniably striking futuristic design, the phenomenal demand for the limited edition initial run starts to make sense.
But will it have such an impact when it makes it to Europe next year? We can't wait to find out.