BYD has revealed a new affordable electric car that could take its home market, and perhaps even the world, by storm.
SHANGHAI, Auto Show – Chinese carmaker BYD has pulled the covers off a new affordable electric car that could take its home market, and even the world, by storm.
While electric cars are hardly taking off in load-shed South Africa, they are surging in many other parts of the world but one obstacle remains: most of them are really expensive.
Although the idea of a compact electric car is nothing new, BYD believes its new Seagull city hatchback will take the Chinese market by storm and analysts are predicting that it will soon become the country’s best-selling vehicle.
Unveiled this week at the Shanghai Auto Show, the Seagull is set to be priced between 78,000 and 95,800 Chinese Yuan, which equated to R207,000 to R251,000 at the time of writing.
Measuring 3,780mm in length, the BYD Seagull is similar in size to a Datsun Go or Hyundai Grand i10, and it’s offered with two battery sizes, Car News China reports.
The cheapest option is a 30 kWh battery and despite its small capacity the carmaker claims it’ll cover 305km between charges on the CLTC cycle. Buyers can also upsize to a 38 kWh unit that’s said to enable 405km.
While rumours indicated that the car would use Sodium-Ion batteries, which some say could revolutionise battery affordability, it appears that the BYD Seagull is actually fitted with Lithium Iron Phosphate (FLP) batteries, which are also a lower-cost alternative to traditional Lithium-Ion units.
BYD says the batteries are compatible with fast-chargers, and with the right outlet they can recharge to 80% in about half an hour.
Given that this is an affordable electric car aimed at city commuting, it’s not exactly a firecracker, with power coming from a 55kW electric motor.
According to Reuters, the CEO of strategic advisory firm Automobility, Bill Russo, expects the BYD Seagull to become China’s best-selling car within six months of its launch.
“This redefines the whole market in terms of a price value proposition,” he said.
Visitors at the BYD stand also showed plenty of enthusiasm towards the product.
“It’s my kind of car, it’s suitable for driving to and from work, and you don’t need to manage anything, just use the battery … it’s also a relatively low cost product,” said 28-year-old Fan Yuhong.
Although BYD hasn’t elaborated on export plans for the Seagull, Russo says that the newcomer would be very compelling to overseas customers.
“Affordability is attractive to everyone anywhere, whether it’s an emerging market, the United States or Europe, this kind of car with this kind of value proposition will sell,” he added.
BYD is an emerging electric car giant, and could topple Tesla as the world’s biggest EV maker this year according to some analysts. However BYD has yet to announce any plans for the South Africa market.
The carmaker recently hit the headlines after launching its new luxury car brand YangWang, which has an Intelligent Body Control System that’s said to be the most advanced in the world. Cars fitted with this technology can literally dance, jump or drive on three wheels.
Just don’t expect to see fancy features like that on the Seagull.