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BYD Auto, an auto division of BYD Co. Ltd., has started testing a new model codenamed C6, and will unveil the minibus model, the first by the company, early next year, SinoCast said yesterday, citing sources.

After six months of internal testing in small quantities, BYD Auto, China's leading electric car maker, will start the mass production of the small bus model, which is predicted to hit the market in the first quarter of 2011, the sources said.

The model will mark BYD's entry into the minibus market. The automaker is now capable of making a mini vehicle with the same quality as the Wuling Rongguang, a high-grade mini vehicle model by SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile, said analysts.

However, the minibus sector in China is now confronted with a slight profit, and related companies are surviving only by achieving huge sales. The price will mean a lot for mini bus buyers, analysts added.

BYD Co., which is 10% owned by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, agreed in July to buy bus and coach maker Hunan Midea Coach for $8.8 million. BYD's first batch of electric buses may roll off the production line later this month.

The first phase of BYD's bus plant project kicked off in September in Changsha, capital city of central China's Hunan province. The C6 minibus model may be produced in this factory. News/2711448/
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