Add a competitor from China to Tesla Motors’ challenges in China.
BYD — the Shenzhen-based electric automaker backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway — said Friday that it plans to ramp up production of batteries.
The move positions the company to take on Tesla in the fight to become the dominant supplier of batteries to electric vehicles.
For each of the next three years, BYD will add six gigawatt-hours of production for batteries, raising its capacity from about 10 gigawatt-hours at the end of this year to about 34 gigawatt-hours by the beginning of 2020.
That would put BYD on par with Tesla’s planned “gigafactory,” the Palo Alto-based company’s $5 billion bet on the battery business. CEO Elon Musk has said the facility will reach full production capacity of about 35 gigawatt-hours by 2020.
BYD’s expansion comes just weeks after Tesla admitted it fumbled its entry into China.
Reuters reported that the company only sold 120 cars in the country in January. Last month, Tesla fired about 30 percent of its 600-person staff in China, according to the local newspaper Economic Observer.
Neither BYD nor Tesla responded to requests for comment.