EVDirect – the distribution company responsible for BYD in Australia – has appointed a new CEO, as the Chinese electrified vehicle specialist plans to further expand its local lineup.

    In a media statement, EVDirect announced David Smitherman will take over from Luke Todd as the company’s CEO.

    Mr Smitherman most recently worked as general manager of strategy for the Ateco Group – responsible for the Australian distribution of Maserati, Renault, LDV and Ram.

    A post on Mr Smitherman’s LinkedIn profile shows his most recent role was centred around the management of Ram since 2019.

    In that time, Ram has become the most popular US pickup brand in Australia, while also overtaking global sister company Jeep – which is operated by FCA Australia – in the local sales race last year, despite having no passenger cars or SUVs in its lineup.

    Mr Smitherman’s arrival to EVDirect comes just months ahead of BYD’s launch of its as-yet unnamed ute in Australia, which will first arrive as a plug-in hybrid – a contrast to the brand’s current electric-only lineup – before a solely battery-powered version is expected at a later date.

    The BYD plug-in ute is due in Australia during the second half of 2024, arriving after the BYD Seal U SUV between April and June.

    Mr Todd will remain with EVDirect as the firm’s managing director and executive chairman.

    The current BYD model range in Australia consists of the Atto 3 SUV, the Dolphin hatchback and Seal sedan. In addition to the Seal U, it has three additional vehicle launches planned for 2024.

    Under Mr Todd’s leadership, BYD has established itself as the second best-selling electric vehicle (EV) brand in Australia, behind only market leader Tesla.

    Despite deliveries of the BYD Atto 3 only beginning in mid-late 2022, the brand soon propelled itself up Australia’s EV sales charts, selling 12,438 cars locally in 2023.

    While this figure was significantly behind Tesla (which recorded 46,116 sales), it was more than double fellow Chinese brand MG (5928 sales).

    Last month, BYD sold more cars than Tesla in Australia for the first time, though this is largely understood to have been driven by shipping delays faced by the latter brand.

    MORE: Everything BYD

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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