The F3DM is a range extended electric vehicle, meaning it has a completely electric drivetrain and a gasoline engine is only incorporated as a generator to charge the battery. BYD claims their Dual Mode is different from a range extended electric vehicle because it actually has three modes of operation: 1) Full battery-powered electric mode 2) Series-hybrid mode, in which an engine drives a generator to recharge the batteries, acting as a range-extender like in the Chevy Volt. 3) Parallel hybrid mode, in which the engine and motor both provide propulsive power, like in the Toyota Prius.
The BYD F3DM is priced at $22,000 and will hopefully be available in the US by 2011. However, this is twice the price of an equivalent car in China using traditional fuel.
A BYD spokesman said that the new version of the F3DM, available for private buyers will implement more advanced battery and electronics to further enhance efficiency. The first selling location will be Shenzhen, which plans to have 24,000 cars on the road, possibly with the help of government subsidy programs.