DETROIT, Michigan, Jan. 12, 2009 (AFP) — China’s BYD Auto announced plans Monday to enter the U.S. market in 2011 with a range of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

It would likely be the first Chinese automaker to enter the highly-competitive U.S. market and beat many established automakers in offering an extended-range electric vehicle to U.S. consumers.

General Motors, Chrysler, and Nissan are expected to be the first to introduce electric cars in small quantities to the United States in 2010.

Toyota expects to introduce a plug-in hybrid at the end of this year and a two-seater electric car in 2012.

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Ford plans to introduce a small electric car in 2011 and a plug-in hybrid in 2012.

Chairman Wang Chua-Fu said BYD will soon start developing a sales and distribution network in the United States.

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“Our goal is to introduce BYD electric vehicles here in 2011 and set up our manufacturing facilities in U.S. when it is appropriate,” Chua-Fu said as he unveiled the vehicles at the Detroit auto show.

The lineup will include the F3DM, the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid sedan, which went on sale in China last year, and the battery-powered e6, a mid-size five-passenger crossover vehicle with a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge.

Chua-Fu was joined by David Sokol, chairman of MidAmerican Energy Holdings, the energy wing of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which last fall acquired a 10 percent stake in BYD Auto’s parent company, BYD Company Ltd.

“For the electric-vehicle market to mature, the underlying charging infrastructure and technologies must mature at least simultaneously, if not first,” Sokol said.

“We are working with BYD on developing charging technologies and infrastructure that would help promote plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles.”