BYD Targets German Homes With New Power-Storage Units

BYD Co., which started out manufacturing batteries for mobile-phone companies, began selling new portable power-storage units in Germany with a target of winning a third of the market there for such devices next year.

The storage units -- the company calls them B-Boxes -- are made up of chargeable batteries that can be plugged into a power socket to store electricity for later use. BYD will begin this week to take orders for the boxes, which come in different capacities. The company declined to say how much they cost.

BYD follows Japan’s Panasonic Corp. and Tesla Motors Inc. in offering these energy-storage systems. By solving the problem of intermittent supply, these devices are helping to promote the spread of solar and wind power for residential and commercial use. Households can charge the devices at night, when tariffs are lower, and use the power during the day when power consumption reaches a peak.

“Competition is heating up,” said Tom Zhao, president of BYD’s photovoltaic business, said in an interview. “We have the expertise in battery making so I’m sure we will be able to beat our rivals.”

BYD, which counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. as a shareholder, is also considering building a factory in Europe to produce the batteries used in the energy-storage system, Zhao said.

The maker of electric vehicles started a new battery plant in Shenzhen last year and plans to add the equivalent capacity of charging 24,000 electric buses each year for the next few years, Zhao said, without providing a timeframe. The company said June 3 that it plans to raise as much as 15 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) to expand battery output and develop new-energy vehicles.