BYD Joins EV Price War, Intensifies UK Market Push

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BYD eyes 100 sites across the UK by the end of 2025

Major electric vehicle makers have cut prices in response to a similar move by Tesla. The latest to do so is China’s BYD (which stands for Build Your Dream). The Chinese automaker announced on Thursday 9 March 2023 that it was slashing the prices of some models. This will further intensify the already competitive Chinese auto market.

The discount will apply to buyers that purchase the Seal and Song Plus models from March 10 to March 31. BYD disclosed this through an official social media account. The Seal EV was slashed by 8,888 yuan ($1,276) while the price of the Song Plus dropped by 6,888 yuan ($989).

BYD was the best-selling passenger car brand in February, thanks to its electrified Ocean and Dynasty series. The Chinese automaker outsold Volkswagen for the second time in four months according to retail sales information from China Merchants Bank International.

BYD sold 14,372 Seal sedans and 34,621 Song Plus SUVs in the first two months of 2023 as reported by China Passenger Car Association. Tesla remained at the top of the log. Within the same period, the association reported that Tesla sold 21,056 Model 3s and 39,710 Model Ys.

BYD begins the sale of passenger EVs in the UK

On Wednesday 8 March 2023, BYD announced that it has started selling its electric SUV Atto 3 in the UK. The Chinese EV giant plans to open four stores with local dealers in Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Manchester, and Birmingham later this month. This will mark BYD’s expansion into UK’s passenger car division.

The compact electric crossover will be available at retail stands starting from £36,490 ($43,250). In terms of range, it can travel 261 miles on a single charge. Prior to now, BYD has been selling green buses in the UK. It is believed to operate about 3,500 electric buses in the UK, notwithstanding that it is a newcomer in the market.

BYD has been shipping three of its brands across Europe since 2022. There are reports that it is in talks to take over one of Ford’s plants in Germany. However, the Chinese automaker is also considering the construction of a proprietary auto plant in Europe.

BYD eyes 100 sites across the UK by the end of 2025

The Chinese automaker will not be limiting its presence to four locations in the UK. It plans to broaden its dealer focus to more regions, although it is currently operating with a handful of larger pioneer partners.

Tim Bryant, BYD Europe’s training and customer experience manager, said the Chinese automaker recognizes “regional expertise” and asked buyers to expect a “regional roll-out to happen”. Bryant previously worked at Tesla.

The initial rollout will happen through existing dealer partners. LSH Auto, Lookers, Arnold Clark, and Pendragon have all been announced as key retailers.

The Chinese-based automaker has established a site in Mayfair under the Stratstone brand. At the Arnold Clark Linwood site, BYD will be surrounded by competitors. BYD EVs will occupy the second-floor space at LSH Auto’s flagship Stockport. Bryant called these initial partners the “backbone of the UK”.

BYD will also commit to the training of its partners which will lead to the transfer of “the learning and expertise from one division” to another. By the end of 2023, BYD hopes to operate 20 to 30 showrooms and push the number to between 90 and 100 locations by the end of 2025.

The Chinese automaker is also in talks with other specialists to support its UK expansion. For example, the automaker is in talks with Octopus to assist with a salary sacrifice scheme, with Santander to assist with finance, with Shell to gain access to its Recharge network, and with Sixt to electrify business fleets.

“We very quickly recognized that even if you put a store in Manchester, that doesn’t mean you’ve covered the north,” said Bryant. “We have got to learn in terms of saying ‘London is the biggest area’ but should we be there?”

BYD to unveil new electric SUV under the F brand

BYD plans a global release of its first EV under the F brand in 2024. Internally, the off-road SUV is designated “SF” and is equipped with new hybrid technology. The car is believed to have a battery capable of pushing it through a range of 746 miles on a single charge.

Spy photos that leaked on the internet showed the new extremely offroad SUV covered in camouflage. The base model of the F brand will come with a non-load-bearing body design which is expected to enhance its offroad performance. It is expected to be 5 meters long with a wheelbase of 2.8 meters.

Operations of the F brand will be independent of BYD’s existing brands. In terms of hierarchy, it will be between “Looking Up” and “Tengshi”. Also, the F brand will join the Ocean and Dynasty brands. The roster of the new brand will include coupes, offroad SUVs, sports cars, and more.

BYD revealed that it will be powered by a petrol hybrid drivetrain. The power output is estimated at around 500kW. What is unclear at the moment is whether it will be a conventional hybrid (HEV) or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The vehicle will get rear, center, and front differential locks.

The focus of the first model will be on offroad fields and the products are expected to have a performance that can compete with or rival the Mercedes-Benz G-class. Its price will be between 400,000 yuan and 600,000 yuan ($57,417 to $86,125).

Since coming on board the EV space, BYD has remained in tough contention with Tesla for the largest market share. The creation of the F brand shows the automaker’s commitment to diversifying its product lineup. The official unveiling of the model is expected to happen at the upcoming 2023 Shanghai Motor Show in April.

Related: BYD May Buy Ford’s Automobile Plant In Germany And Push Electrification

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