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China's BYD posts 79% profit jump for 2016

Carmaker got turbo boost from subsidies for electric cars, hybrids

HONG KONG -- BYD's net profit shot up more than twice as fast as its revenue last year as the Shenzhen-based Chinese automaker reaped the benefits of generous eco-car subsidies from the government.

Profit grew 79% on the year in 2016 to 5.05 billion yuan ($733 million), the company said Wednesday. Revenue rose 29% to 100 billion yuan, double the 2013 figure.

The flood of black ink owed much to the subsidies, which brought BYD the local-currency equivalent of roughly $9,000 per eco-car sold.

The company sold a combined 96,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in China last year, leading the market for environmentally friendly autos with a 23% share. It seeks to move many more this year, targeting sales of 140,000 to 160,000 units, according to President Wang Chuanfu. BYD also builds conventional vehicles.

But with the eco-car subsidies reduced this year, net profit is forecast to grow only about 40% in 2017.

Although market growth has slowed this year, the company will continue to increase its focus on the eco-car business, Wang told a news conference here Wednesday.

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