Chinese automaker BYD says profit tumbled last year but sees new models driving recovery

HONG KONG – Chinese auto and battery maker BYD says profit sank last year because of tougher competition in the world’s biggest car market but is likely to recover as new models are released.

BYD said Sunday that 2012 profit fell to 81.4 million yuan ($13 million) from 1.4 billion yuan the year before. Revenue slipped 4 per cent to 44.4 billion yuan.

U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffett owns about 10 per cent of BYD.

The company said first quarter profit this year would grow four to fivefold from the year before as new models such as the Sirui mid-range sedan arrive in showrooms.

BYD said demand for batteries for mobile phones and other devices would remain weak while its solar power business is losing less money than it did last year.