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BYD 'overwhelmed' by demand, plans huge EV expansion

Not lacking ambition, BYD's Australian importer seeks top five placing and eight EVs inside three years, including a ute. Oh, and an Eagers dealer network.

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello
News Editor
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The local importer for new-to-market Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD says the company could offer as many as eight EVs in Australia by 2024, including a ute, thanks to a new global platform and well-funded right-hand drive production lines.

BYD, backed in part by Warren Buffett and better known for its batteries and electric buses, is currently embarking on a huge global expansion, and sees Australia as a potential beachhead alongside its growing footprint in Europe.

Fresh from revealing the circa-$45,000 BYD Atto 3 electric SUV in February ahead of shipments from mid-year, the company will now turn its attention to offering a small electric (EV) hatch and sporty EV sedan by the end of 2022, or potentially early 2023 if supply delays hit.

While it briefly sold the BYD T3 EV van and E6 MPV, the Atto 3 is its real first volume play.

Into next year, a larger EV SUV and – big news – an electric pickup, are both on the conveyor belt.

The ultimate goal is up to eight EV models by mid-2024, and an aspiration to be a top 5 overall brand, facilitated by Australia-specific right-hand drive Chinese production lines.

This would be extraordinary growth from nowhere, stoked along by BYD’s confidence in Australia’s growing EV uptake, and an ongoing comparative lack of supply for key ‘legacy’ competitors.

These huge claims come from Luke Todd, CEO and managing director of BYD’s nominated Australian importer EVDirect.com.au, who we spoke to this week.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with not just buyers, but people that are interested in the product. BYD to some is a new brand and they have never heard of it, but to others BYD has been a hotly anticipated brand,” Mr Todd said.

“[We are] thrilled about the volume of deposits we’ve taken [on Atto 3]. We are comfortably on a pathway to being the second largest EV company with deliveries for this year,” he added, referring to Australia specifically.

This latter claim indirectly refers to the market’s dominant player Tesla, which last year sold a tick over 12,000 Model 3s here. By contrast every single other EV maker combined sold 5149, which gives some indication of the gap which BYD hopes to squeeze into.

Mr Todd would not divulge the specific number of orders currently placed via EVDirect.com.au, secured by a deposit and offered with low-rate finance deals as a sweetener.

EVDirect.com.au recently entered into a memorandum of understanding with Australia’s largest dealer group, the publicly listed Eagers Automotive, with the intention of having around 20 fixed-price retail sites by 2024, augmenting its online store.

An existing deal with Mycar, the independent repairer formerly known as Kmart Tyre & Auto, to act as an additional servicing and delivery partner, remains in place, added Mr Todd, who said the approach was an “omni-channel” one designed to suit all types of buyers.

Product-wise, Mr Todd claims the Atto 3 will be first joined in 2022 by the $35,000-$45,000 EA1 EV hatch, sold in China as the Dolphin.

He also wants to launch a sleek new sedan model called the BYD Seal (in China) here before years end or in early 2023, though the chosen name is unclear. There are spy photos of the Seal in testing all over the internet, go have a look.

Into 2023, the focus is intended to swing to the BYD Song Pro Plus SUV, larger than the Atto 3, and the mysterious electric pickup truck.

Touching on the stated top five mission (the number-five brand here in 2021 was Kia with 67,964 sales) Mr Todd said BYD’s production capabilities, and expected growth in demand for EVs, make it achievable.

“There’s no reason when we have four to five models, there’s no reason why that’s not achievable. The market is moving very quickly, the majority of manufacturers are moving to EV platforms, and BYD happens to be ahead of the game,” Mr Todd opined.

BYD’s new e-platform 3.0 for EVs can offer up to 800V charging capacity in some applications and uses the company’s proprietary lithium iron phosphate Blade Battery – the very ones that reports suggest Tesla wants to use.

In an intriguing insight, Mr Todd also said each new BYD model line has a production capability in China, in right-hand drive guise for Australia, of 15,000 units per year. That’s eight models, each of which has scope for minimum 15,000 annual deliveries to this market.

“High volume production and delivery to Australia separates us from the pack,” Mr Todd added.

Want to know more about BYD and its Australian operations? We have tons of coverage below. And tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello
Mike Costello is the News Editor at CarExpert.
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