Inicio BYD This affordable EV is reliable and massively popular — but you can’t...

This affordable EV is reliable and massively popular — but you can’t buy one in the US

This affordable EV is reliable and massively popular — but you can't buy one in the US

Tesla is used to being the star of the EV world. But things are changing, with a wave of Chinese firms muscling their way in.

The star of the show? BYD. Depending on the month, the company is either the world’s No. 1 or No. 2 EV company — either just behind or just ahead of Tesla.

A new, sub-$10,000 model has many automakers quaking, and all eyes are on BYD.

B Y What?

BYD stands for «Build Your Dreams.» It’s the Chinese automaking titan taking on the whole world.

Should I have heard of BYD before?

Not unless you’re in the habit of taking apart your mobile devices: BYD is the world’s biggest producer of rechargeable batteries.

BYD now sells cars in over 70 countries and counting. The company delivered over 3 million plug-in EVs and hybrids in 2023, nine out of 10 of which were sold in China.

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Perhaps most importantly, it’s the maker of the inexpensive EV that might change the world: the «Seagull.»

So why have I never seen one in the U.S.? 

There’s a 2.5% tariff on imported autos and a 25% extra charge for Chinese-made cars imposed by former President Donald Trump and then continued by President Joe Biden.

Would letting Chinese EVs into the U.S. really be so bad?

The Alliance for American Manufacturing dubbed it an «extinction level event» for domestic carmakers. And Tesla’s Elon Musk, who once said, «I don’t think they have a great product,» recently warned that Chinese EV firms would «demolish» rivals without trade barriers.

Why would I want a BYD car?

Price, for starters. And quality, for seconds. Mathias Miedreich, chief executive of materials for the tech giant Umicore, said of Chinese EVs: «They are simply good cars and people buy them.»

About the price?

BYD’s Seagull is the hot topic. In China, it sells for the equivalent of under $10,000.

That said, if the Seagull is sold in the U.S., the price will be higher — but still an eye-opener. The Seagull is going on sale in Mexico (as the «Dolphin Mini«) for around the equivalent of $21,000. That’s roughly half the cost of a new Tesla.

So BYD is all about bottom-end models?

BYD is about the bottom, middle, and top. BYD also recently announced a supercar — the Yangwang U9 — that can go from zero to 60 in under 2.4 seconds, for about $233,000. And it’s pursuing the luxury and SUV markets.

Let’s talk ‘Seagull’

On the surface, it’s unremarkable. The front-wheel-drive, four-passenger hatchback boasts a maximum range of 252 miles. It goes from zero to 30 in around five seconds.

But it’s what you get for the money that has the world watching. Caresoft Global automotive benchmarking company imported one and called the car a «clarion call for the rest of the auto industry.»

Analysis site CleanTechnica described the Seagull as «perfect for about 90% of what people use a car for.» Ford CEO Jim Farley said it was «pretty damn good.»

Even more remarkably, BYD claims to make a profit on every Seagull sold.

But I definitely can’t have one yet?

Stay tuned. BYD is planning a factory in Mexico that could allow EVs produced there to skirt the tariff, thanks to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. However, U.S. lawmakers want to change the trade agreement’s rules.

The White House is also investigating the national security implications of Chinese cars collecting U.S. data.

Former President Trump promised to impose a 100% tariff on Mexican-made Chinese automobiles if he is reelected. China retaliated with a complaint to the World Trade Organization, claiming discrimination.

What now? 

Now, we wait. Many expect that, one way or another, BYD models will end up selling on U.S. soil.

Marin Gjaja, COO of Ford’s electric vehicle division, said: «I don’t know exactly the timing, but I think they’re going to end up here, just as the Japanese ended up here. The Koreans ended up here. The Germans ended up here. … So we better get fit now and better get going on EVs, or we don’t have a future.»

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