The MG ZS EV may soon lose its title of Australia’s most affordable electric passenger vehicle to another Chinese vehicle.
The 2022 BYD E6 is set to arrive Down Under before the end of August 2021, priced at $39,999 before on-road costs. Orders are open now.
There’s a catch, though: just 15 examples will be imported.
The E6 will be imported by a company called Nexport, the Chinese automaker’s official distributor for this market, and sold online through its EVDirect.com.au site.
Nexport is a part of the TrueGreen Group investment fund, and supplies electric buses to the New South Wales government.
It’s bringing in the limited run of E6s to both gauge interest in the vehicle and to see where the interest is coming from, whether it’s private buyers, fleets or ride-share operators.
“We have a very clear and precise road map for what vehicles we’re bringing but we’ve been overwhelmed with positive interest so we thought we might look at some other vehicles as well,” said TrueGreen Group CEO Luke Todd.
If it’s well-received, the E6 will become a permanent model locally.
The E6 is a replacement for the first-generation E6, which was also imported to Australia in limited numbers. Some of these can still be found doing taxi duty on the streets of Sydney.
Now based on the internal combustion engine-powered Song Max, the E6 is an all-electric, five-seat MPV.
At 4695mm long and 1810mm wide, it’s exactly as long and wide as the outgoing Mitsubishi Outlander albeit on a longer 2800mm wheelbase.
Local power figures haven’t been confirmed, however an entry in the Australian Government’s Road Vehicle Certification System reveals an output of 100kW.
For comparison, an MG ZS EV produces 105kW and 353Nm.
The E6 uses a single, front-mounted electric motor like the MG, and a 70kWh lithium-ion ‘Blade’ battery pack, as with the upcoming BYD T3 van which features a 70kW/180Nm electric motor.
The company claims an electric range of 522km on the stricter WLTP test cycle.
BYD says its new, more efficient ‘Blade’ battery has helped reduce the weight of the E6 by a whopping 490kg, and uses no heavy metals and a non-toxic electrolyte.
Inside, there’s a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto. Boot space measures 580L.
With a shape similar to the Toyota Prius V, the E6 is poised for duty as a taxi or ride-share vehicle.
Nexport signed a deal with a vehicle subscription provider used by Uber and DiDi drivers earlier in 2021.
The fleet plan between BYD/Nexport and Splend is being billed as Australia’s largest singular electric vehicle order to date, comprising a grand total of 3000 cars for 2022/23 – though this figure was mentioned in a press release that seems to include cars destined for both this market and the UK.
The memorandum of understanding plans for BYD electric car deliveries to Splend’s Australia and UK operations to commence from early 2022, and will take two years to complete.
A report in the Australian Financial Review claimed the Australian portion was 2000 units. Given total EV sales in Australia were somewhere around 5000 units last year, that’s potentially seismic.
The E6 won’t be the only electric BYD to make its way to Australia.
Nexport has already revealed plans to import the small T3 van here, priced at under $35,000 before on-road costs. That’s around $15,000 cheaper than the only electric van sold here currently, the Renault Kangoo Z.E.
The company has also imported an example of the Han sedan, while it could also bring the EA1 hatch.
BYD has become a key global manufacturer having sold more than 180,000 electric passenger vehicles last year.
Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway has been a major shareholder since 2008 and owns 8.2 per cent of BYD which is listed on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.