Robin Zhang, Business Development Director of BYD Finland Oy, first landed in Europe 10 years ago. Since then, he has been moving northwards constantly – from the Netherlands to Denmark and finally to Finland, where BYD, a leading-edge provider of green energy technologies, is now testing its electric buses in extreme weather conditions. The pilot buses will soon be in use in the public transportation in Espoo city, part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
The story of Robin Zhang in Finland does not, however, start with E-bus development but with Nokia and mobile phone batteries. Take a Nokia mobile phone, and you can literally touch and see BYD’s achievements. Robin and BYD’s other six representatives in Finland work closely with Nokia to design phones and to provide Nokia with components and accessories. BYD’s technology-based and innovation-oriented approach is valued in Finland, where, according to Robin, people are willing to use new, life-changing technologies.
“Finland is powerful in innovations. Finns, who really seem to enjoy silence and seek it during their leisure time, are also hard-working and modest. They are straight-forward and say what they think which is beneficial when building long-term business relationships”, says Robin Zhang.
Robin Zhang is now conveniently based in Espoo, close to Helsinki, after having spent 4 years in Oulu, in northern Finland.
“Greater Helsinki area is the best area in Finland because of its internationality and open-mindedness. We have got remarkable support here. When BYD started its E-Bus operation in Finland, the China Finland Golden Bridge Innovation Center and the Greater Helsinki Promotion provided us with connections. This was really helpful and saved us a lot of time”, he says.
Great potential, zero emissions
Though mobile phone development is still BYD’s core business in Finland, the company has launched a fascinating pilot project on E-buses with a public transport operation Veolia Transport Finland Oy. This unique project gathers together major Finnish public transport and technology players: Veolia, Espoo city, VTT, Helsinki Regional Transport Authority, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES), Ministry of Transport and Communications and Ministry of Employment and Economy. Its goal is to make the BYD eBUS-12 the first pure electric city bus in Finland.
The bus, already in regular passenger service in four cities in China, reduces significantly pollution and operating costs. It is able to run 250 km on a single charge in urban conditions. Veolia and BYD will now test the bus in Espoo, where temperature varies between -30 and +30 degrees Celsius over the year.
“If we can survive in Finland, we can do it anywhere. BYD’s next step is to find local suppliers of temperature-sensitive components in Finland. Finland has great expertise in this area, and it also has a good infrastructure for electric cars and buses. Many households have a plug for their car already installed – something that is just being planned for example in China. This means big potential”, Zhang says.
Established in 1995, BYD specializes in IT, automobile and new energy. The company has grown from a small enterprise of 20 employees to a corporation employing a workforce of more than 150,000, with 10 industrial parks across China and offices in the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan and Hong Kong.