BYD is launching its first plug-in hybrids in Australia this year, and its first such model has now been spied undisguised.

    The company has been testing prototypes covered in swirly camouflage, and if there was ever any doubt this model was the Seal U (aka Song Plus Champion Edition in China), that’s gone now.

    These images, shared by a member of the BYD EV Owners Australia group on Facebook, show a right-hand drive version of the new mid-sized SUV charging in Ballarat, Victoria.

    It’s due to launch in the first half of 2024, ahead of a plug-in hybrid ute in the second half of the year.

    While the Song Plus is also sold with pure electric power in China, the presence of a more traditional grille indicates this is the plug-in hybrid version.

    This features BYD’s DM-i plug-in hybrid system, mating an 81kW/135Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 145kW/325Nm electric motor.

    There’s a choice of 18.3kWh and 26.6kWh batteries, with 110km and 150km of NEDC range, respectively. It can be charged at up to 7kW using AC power and 18kW using DC power.

    Only a few plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) have a Type 2/CCS charger, including Land Rover PHEVs, which theoretically means faster charging speeds than Type 2-equipped PHEVs.

    It measures 4775mm long, 1890mm wide (2085mm including the mirrors) and 1670mm tall on a 2765mm wheelbase.

    That makes it 65mm longer, 28mm wider but 95mm lower than a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on a 59mm longer wheelbase. It’s also 320mm longer, 15mm wider and 55mm taller than an Atto 3.

    The electric model, or Seal U as it’s known outside of China, offers a choice of 71.8kWh or 87kWh batteries and a 160kW electric motor with claimed WLTP range of up to 500km.

    Available equipment on the Song Plus Champion Edition DM-i includes a choice of 12.8- or 15.6-inch touchscreen infotainment systems, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Infinity sound system, power-adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, remote start, ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof and LED headlights.

    A full suite of active safety and driver assist technology is available, including adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist, safe exit warning, and a surround-view camera.

    While the Song Plus Champion Edition debuted in 2023, it’s an update of the Song Plus that’s been on sale in China since 2020.

    BYD offers a dizzying array of vehicles in the Chinese market across its Dynasty and Ocean series. Dynasty models are, as the name suggests, named after Chinese dynasties (e.g. Tang, Han) and yet the Song Plus is sold as an Ocean vehicle despite being named after the Song dynasty.

    The Champion Edition/Seal U has design cues to better align it visually with Ocean vehicles like the electric Seal and plug-in hybrid Seal DM-i sedans.

    We receive a mix of Dynasty (Atto 3 aka Yuan Plus) and Ocean (Seal, Dolphin) vehicles in Australia.

    BYD has also recently revealed two new mid-sized SUVs, both of which exclusively offer electric power: the Sea Lion 07 and Song L.

    It’s unclear if either of these vehicles feature in BYD Australia’s plans to launch at least two new vehicles each year from 2024. It wants to be a top-five brand in 2025.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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