Chinese manufacturer BYD Automobile has revealed that it will start mass producing rechargeable plug-in electric cars next year despite industry giants Toyota and GM admitting they’re still several years away from doing the same. After four years of research and development BYD believe it has finally overcome cost difficulties associated with the technology by using cheaper raw materials.

The first car is to be launched in the second half of next year and will be powered by both electric and hybrid drivetrains. By sharing technologies developers claim it will be much more fuel-efficient than conventional petrol-powered vehicles and will have improved dynamics as well.

Production costs will be reduced by the use of iron batteries as opposed to lithium. “The iron battery proves to have better safety performance and larger capacity. The cost could also be lowered by using abundant resources and affordable raw materials,” BYD officials told reporters from Shanghai Daily.

This same iron battery was showcased in a concept car last year that was claimed to be 70% charged in just ten minutes. BYD is no stranger to battery technology. It started off by manufacturing batteries for mobile phones and only started making cars in 2005.