April 13, 2024

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BYD's new EV, which starts at less than $10,000, is sparking fear among competitors

BYD's new EV, which starts at less than $10,000, is sparking fear among competitors

Leading electric vehicle manufacturer BYD has shaken the industry after unveiling the new Seagull (Dolphin Mini), with prices starting at $9,700 (69,800 yuan). Although BYD's new electric car, which has earned the nickname “Lamborghini mini,” is not sold in the United States, American automakers are taking notes.

BYD's new Seagull EV has shocked the industry

BYD launched the new Seagull EV Honor Edition (Dolphin Mini overseas) earlier this month at a “shocking price” starting at around $9,700 (69,800 yuan).

Powered by BYD's Blade batteries, the new electric vehicle is available in 30.08 kWh and 38.88 kWh versions. The former is good for a CLTC range of up to 190 miles (305 km), while the latter offers up to 252 miles (405 km). It can also be charged from 30% to 80% in 30 minutes.

The interior doesn't look like a cheap EV, with a 10.1-inch rotating central display and minimalist design.

With DiLink Smart Network, users can interact and play videos. According to local reports, the Seagull car received the title “Lamborghini Mini,” as the design was led by former Lamborghini designer Wolfgang Egger.

Perhaps more importantly, BYD is making money from the Lamborghini Mini, something that has American automakers worried.

BYD's new EV
BYD Dolphin Mini (Seagull) launched in Brazil (Source: BYD)

According to Terry Wichowski, a former GM executive and current head of Caresoft Global's automotive division, BYD's new Seagull could be a “clarity call to the rest of the industry.”

In new CNBC a reportWojciechowski called the low-cost electric vehicle a “significant event” as American automakers look to keep up.

BYD-New Seagull-EV
The new BYD Seagull EV (Source: BYD)

American automakers are looking to affordable electric vehicles to compete

Caresoft, an engineering consulting firm, examines every part of a vehicle (both digitally and physically) to determine how its customers can improve efficiency.

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After studying the new BYD Seagull, the company found it to be simple and effective in design, manufacture and implementation. However, Caresoft was met with better-than-expected quality and reliability.

“What they did was done very well,” Wojciechowski explained. “It was done efficiently.” For less than $10,000, it's a steal.

BYD's new EV
BYD Seagull (Dolphin Mini) test (Source: BYD)

Although BYD has no plans to enter the US passenger electric vehicle market, if the Seagull makes it to America, it will likely still be tens of thousands of dollars cheaper than the average electric vehicle.

BYD has launched the Seagull EV in South America as the Dolphin Mini. In Brazil, the price of an electric car starts at around $20,000 (R$99,800).

Meanwhile, American automakers are preparing for the inevitable. “What we've seen over time is that automakers are eventually entering all the important markets,” Marin Gegaja, Ford Model E's chief operating officer, said in a recent interview. CNBC.

BYD-cheapest-seagull-EV
BYD Seagull (Dolphin Mini) inside (Source: BYD)

Ford is changing its plans to focus on smaller, more affordable electric vehicles, including compact electric pickups and SUVs. According to sources, the first model is expected to be launched in 2026, with a starting price of about $25,000.

Rival GM plans to introduce the next-generation Chevy Bolt EV, based on the Ultium platform, next year. According to CFO Paul Jacobson, the new Bolt EV will save billions as the first Ultium-based model to use LFP batteries. Ford also plans to use LFP batteries in next-generation models to reduce costs.

Take Electric

American automakers are already losing market share. The “Big Three” companies, including Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler (now owned by Stellantis), have seen their US market share decline from 75% in 1984 to about 40% in 2023.

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Ford CEO Jim Farley warned at a Wolfe Research conference last month that if automakers fail to keep up with Chinese automakers, like BYD, 20% to 30% of your revenue is at risk.

Farley also described BYD's new Seagull EV as “very good,” and warned the industry. The Ford leader added: “As the CEO of a company that has had difficulty competing with the Japanese and South Koreans, we have to solve this problem.”

The US automaker is developing a low-cost EV platform led by Alan Clark, who previously oversaw engineering on Tesla's Model Y.

Amid the shift to smaller electric vehicles, Ford is reportedly delaying its plans to launch a larger three-row electric SUV. Farley said building larger electric cars, like the F-150 Lightning, is too expensive.

Meanwhile, BYD has launched a “liberation fight,” as it calls it, against gas-powered vehicles. The Chinese carmaker has launched a series of low-cost electric cars, including an updated version of its best-selling Dolphin.

BYD has a huge advantage because it manufactures almost all of its vehicle components. For example, with the exception of windows and frames, everything is manufactured in-house at BYD Dolphin.

Reports suggest that BYD's platform for next-generation electric vehicles could further reduce costs, increasing pressure on US automakers to act.

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