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BYD Dolphin, Seal, Sea Lion and Frigate? What does the future of China's Tesla rival hold in Australia with Tesla Model 3, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 challengers? – CarsGuide


BYD has emerged as a global player on the electric car market, even claiming to have outsold Tesla in the first half of 2022. Now it has its sights set on Australia, with its Atto 3 electric SUV already on sale and deliveries reportedly beginning by the end of August.

While relatively unknown in Australia, BYD Auto is one of the biggest car makers in China and has an advantage over many rivals because its sister company, BYD Electronic, makes the batteries for the cars. That means it has access to both the latest technology and steady supply – something not all car makers can claim amid the global supply chain crisis.

With the impending arrival of the Atto 3, we thought we’d take a look at other models BYD could offer in Australia in the coming years. The brand’s local distributor, EV Direct, has confirmed it plans to offer at least four more models by the end of 2024 with the Dolphin and Seal models the next in line.

Those new models are part of the so-called ‘Ocean Series’ of models, with a variety of battery electric vehicles named after sea animals and a range of plug-in hybrids named after sea vessels; including Frigate and Landing Ship.

Here are the BYD models we think have potential in the Australian market. This list is based on their overseas specifications and local market demands, rather than any first-hand experience.

The biggest potential BYD has in the Australian market is to try and make electric cars more affordable to local customers. EV Direct boss Luke Todd was adamant that he doesn’t want the brand to be seen as a “cheap” brand but one that offers value and makes EVs more available.

For example, the Polestar 2 begins at $63,900 before on-road costs, the Tesla Model 3 starts at $65,550 and even the Kia EV6 is priced from $67,990. In contrast, the Atto 3 small SUV is positioned as the most affordable EV at $44,990 driveaway.

Seal

Mr Todd confirmed to CarsGuide that the Seal and Dolphin will be the next models to follow the Atto 3. He also confirmed reports that the models would be badged as Atto 4 and Atto 2 respectively were premature, and final nameplates are yet to be decided.

The Seal (or whatever name it ends up with) is a compact executive sedan that would give BYD a rival to the likes of the Model 3, Polestar 2 and BMW i4. While sedan sales have been in decline for years, the influx of stylish electric models has seen that trend slow.

The Seal fits that description in many regards and would make a nice companion model to the Atto 3, covering the two key EV segments at present.

Dolphin

Cute name, but like the Seal, there’s no guarantee that’s what it will be called when it hits Australian showrooms. Regardless of the name this car is a small electric hatchback similar to the Nissan Leaf

While the Leaf has only been a modest success for Nissan, that’s probably in large part thanks to its $50,990 before on-raod costs starting price. If The Dolphin can follow the pricing example set by the Atto 3 and start in the mid or even low $40k range it might stand a better chance of attracting buyers.

Sea Lion

Yet to be revealed in production form, this is BYD’s planned bigger SUV sibling for the Atto 3. This mid-sizer would give BYD a direct rival to the Tesla Model Y, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 (with the Atto 3 being a more compact offering). It’s reportedly due to launch in early 2023 in China, so wouldn’t be available for local buyers until later next year or early 2024.

Not much is known about the new model but it’s expected to share the same powertrain and ‘BYD Blade battery’ as the Seal, so it will have proven technology underneath.

Seagull

The final all-electric version of the Ocean Series is expected to be a compact city-sized electric car wearing the Seagull badge. Given its compact size it could be positioned as a price-leader not just for the BYD brand but electric cars in Australia.

A price below $40k would still mean it’s still a premium on many similar-sized petrol-powered models but given the rising prices of ‘light cars’ there’s potential for an EV this size to be priced competitively.

Frigate 07

As mentioned earlier, the other side of the Ocean Series range are plug-in hybrid models named after vessels. There’s the Destroyer 05 sedan and Landing Ship people-mover, but the most logical option for Australia – assuming EV Direct doesn’t want to stick with EVs only – would be the Frigate 07.

In China, it’s actually known as the Corvette 07 (which for obvious reasons isn’t usable outside of its local market) and it’s a plug-in hybrid mid-size SUV that would offer a broader choice for potential BYD buyers.

Power comes from a combination of a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motors. Full specifications for the Frigate 07 aren’t available yet but it is known that there are electric motors on both axles for all-wheel drive performance.



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