The first dual-cab ute from Chinese car maker BYD is due in showrooms next year with plug-in hybrid power and a sub-$100,000 price, but the solely electric version may be a while away.
The electric version of the upcoming BYD ute may still be 18 months to two years from Australian showrooms – a year after the plug-in hybrid version which is set to cost less than $100,000 – Drive understands.
As previously reported by Drive, the Chinese car maker’s first double-cab pick-up is scheduled to reach Australia in the first half of next year, pending any delays, as a long-range plug-in hybrid branded ‘DM-i’.
It is planned to cost less than $100,000 in base form, and is due to commence formal road testing in Australia before the end of this year.
It was already known the solely electric version would arrive at a later date – however it may be further away than initially anticipated.
Luke Todd – managing director of BYD’s Australian distributor EVDirect – told Drive the new ute will be shown in China “soon”, ahead of a planned Australian arrival next year, pending any delays.
“[We plan to launch the] DM-i first. [There’s] no exact time yet on the full electric. There definitely will be a full electric, but we believe for Australian consumers, once they see and understand the DM-i technology, they’ll see the reason why we brought that to Australia first,” said Mr Todd.
BYD Australia is yet to confirm a launch date for the electric version, however Drive understands it may be 12 months behind the hybrid – which would place its arrival in 2025.
Prices are yet to be confirmed, however Mr Todd said the cheapest variant is planned to cost less than $100,000, when asked by Drive if the base model’s price would include five or six figures.
“What I can say is just look at our history … we [aim to have] the most competitive vehicle in the price range,” the executive said.
“We’ll have vehicles on show early next year, or thereabouts. We’re still 100 per cent on track for sale [opening orders] and delivery in 2024. We’re hoping the first half of 2024.”
It is not clear if the BYD would undercut Australia’s first and only dual-cab electric ute to date, the LDV eT60, which is priced from $92,990 plus on-road costs – with only rear-wheel drive, 330km of claimed driving range, and a 1000kg braked towing capacity.
The plug-in hybrid is planned to combine a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with electric motors – and may offer up to 100km of electric driving range, Mr Todd hinted – but final specifications are yet to be disclosed.
A similar system is fitted to BYD’s new ‘Fang Cheng Bao Leopard 5’ off-road SUV in China (below), which claims a power output of 500kW, a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds, 2.5-tonne towing capacity, and a 1200km driving range with a full petrol tank and battery.
Mr Todd was keen to stress the plug-in hybrid is an “electric platform vehicle … that has petrol re-introduced,” rather than a petrol car turned into a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle.
It will be the first vehicle sold by BYD in Australia that can be powered by petrol, as its other passenger-vehicle models locally have been electric-only.
He said BYD engineers from Australia have spent time in China working on the ute project – and vice versa for Chinese engineers visiting Australia.
“We’re feverishly working with the BYD engineers. We just had a great engineering workshop where some of the top-level engineers in Australia that do work for us have gone to China and, in reverse, there’s been BYD pick-up engineers come to Australia, and do some testing here.
“Formal testing and road testing [in Australia] starts later on in the year,” he said.
When asked what requirements for the new vehicle BYD Australia has asked of head office in China, Mr Todd said:
“I think the key things that we worked on with the engineers, and some of our messaging in request to the design team was it’s got to excite the die-hard off-roading enthusiasts, the ones that love to get dirty and go deep into the jungle off-road, and the outback, but it’s also got to be suitable for an everyday drive as well.”
The BYD executive said he was “pleasantly surprised” by a prototype he has driven in China “a couple weeks back”, and told Drive “the specs already been met as far as keeping what we requested.”
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.
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Copyright 2023ABN: 84 116 608 158
Copyright 2023ABN: 84 116 608 158
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