Footage of BYD’s upcoming ute, set to offer both electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains, has appeared online.
In a video shared by CarNewsChina, we can see both the interior and exterior of the upcoming model being driven by who appear to be international journalists at a drive event.
The ute has already been confirmed by BYD’s local distributor for an Australian launch during 2024.
While it appears to wear a big BYD badge on its grille, the styling is reminiscent of the upcoming Land Rover Defender-rivalling SUV – currently referred to as the SF – by spin-off brand Fang Cheng Bao.
Indeed, the BYD ute was photographed next to the Fang Cheng Bao SUV. It’s possible it could be sold under that brand in China, and under the more familiar BYD brand for export markets.
Elements like the centre console, with its metal-look rocker switches, closely resemble those seen in spy photos of the SF.
There’s a free-standing digital instrument cluster ahead of the driver, as well as a large central touchscreen which will likely rotate as in other BYD products.
Below this is a pair of air vents, while on the console there appears to be a wireless charging pad and switchgear for off-road gear like the differential lock.
CarNewsChina reports the ute has independent rear suspension, as opposed to the typical live axle with leaf or coil springs typically seen in utes. It’ll also reportedly be offered with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
A closer look of one camouflaged prototype reveals what appears to be an electric motor on the rear axle plus an exhaust pipe.
This indicates this is a plug-in hybrid model, which CarNewsChina reports could use a 103kW turbocharged 1.5-litre engine mated with two electric motors producing 364kW, for a total system output of 458kW.
Should that be true, the plug-in hybrid BYD ute would shade even the 313kW naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 of the Chevrolet Silverado in power – if not quite reaching the heady performance level of the supercharged Ram 1500 TRX.
It’s unclear what outputs we can expect from the electric version, which seems more likely to come here given BYD in Australia has been purely EV-only to date and recently ruled out introducing the Frigate 07 PHEV SUV locally.
We’d expect it to use BYD’s in-house ‘Blade’ lithium iron phosphate batteries, designed to handle a nail test without thermal runaway.
Luke Todd, managing director of BYD distributor EVDirect, told CarExpert in December 2022 this electric pickup has been “designed around Australian conditions”, with both Chinese and Australian engineers working on the project.
Mr Todd described the BYD electric pickup as a “sports muscle ute” and said it’s slightly larger than the Toyota HiLux.
Overseas reports have suggested the BYD electric pickup will be revealed as a near-production concept at this year’s Chengdu Auto Show in August, with a Chinese market launch around the fourth quarter of 2023.
‘New energy vehicle’ brand BYD is currently expanding at a rapid pace, rolling out its EVs in Europe, Japan, and Australia – where its Atto 3 small SUV is selling in strong numbers after a few launch speed bumps.
In fact, the Warren Buffet-back EV and battery supplier eclipses three million EV and PHEV sales globally in November last year.
It ceased producing conventional combustion-powered vehicles earlier in 2022, and now produces only EVs and PHEVs.