I remember the days when the only electric car from BYD was the e6. Back then the BYD e6 got very bad reviews, it was an expensive, big, heavy, inefficient and dangerously slow electric car. If you don’t know what I’m talking about see the video below, where Nikki from Transport Evolved test drive it.
The BYD e6 got so many bad reviews that BYD decided to introduce plug-in hybrids that were lighter and faster like the BYD Qin and BYD Tang. BEVs were given less priority.
Recently BYD managed to improve the energy density of its LiFePO4 cells and this gave a new chance to its electric cars. The BYD e5 was introduced and the BYD Qin got a BEV version, the BYD Qin EV300. In July, 2.075 BYD Qin EV300 and 1.358 BYD e5 were sold in China. Both models sold more units than the veteran BYD e6 that only got 911 units sold.
The newer BEV models are selling better because they are cheaper, lighter, faster and more efficient, they make the old BYD e6 look bad.
Recently the BYD e6 got a battery upgrade from 60 kWh to 82 kWh and the range increased from 300 km to 400 km. Not only the battery capacity and range increased, but also the car’s weight went up. It went from 2.380 kg to 2.420 kg. The weight increase made the already very inefficient car, even more inefficient. The 400 km range is a very low figure for a car that has a 82 kWh battery. While both BYD Qin EV300 and BYD e5 that share the same drivetrain with a 48 kWh battery and a 160 kW electric motor, get a 300 km range.
Now that BYD figured it out how to make more efficient electric cars the company seems to be prioritizing BEVs over PHEVs. The best seller BYD Song is about to have a BEV version, but might not get the PHEV version that was planned before. The BYD Song EV will be unveiled in September at Chengdu Auto Show and the sales start later this year. The electric SUV will be all-wheel drive (AWD) and is expected to have a 270 km range.
The BYD Song EV isn’t the only all electric SUV coming from BYD, the BYD Yuan EV with a 250 km range, will also arrive later this year.
In my opinion prioritizing BEVs over PHEVs is a good strategy. It’s a lot simpler to build cars with a single drivetrain than hybrids that have two. The production lines will be simpler, faster and more efficient. Less complex machines and workers are also required to mount a single drivetrain.
For now we’ll see BYD’s success from far away, the company seems focused in China and this is understandable.
The Chinese electric car’s market is really booming. According to José Pontes from EV-Sales at least 33.976 units were sold in July. Every week we see a new electric car model being introduced. I wouldn’t be surprised if one million plug-in cars are sold in China next year.
Since there is a lot more of demand than supply, it might take a while for BYD reach the European and North-American markets. Outside of China BYD will continue to bet in public transportation with taxis and buses. Having cars all day long on roads transporting people is great advertising. This way the company can gain some brand awareness until the arrival to the private transportation market.