BYD Australia has assembled a “crack team” of engineers to ensure the company’s upcoming electrified ute, which is currently undergoing testing and development, is up to local expectations and conditions.
The managing director of the Chinese car-maker’s local importer, Luke Todd, says the team of five engineers has extensive experience with developing Australian vehicles and has already been involved in testing the upcoming dual-cab ute – and there’s plenty more to come.
While testing of the ute has so far been focused on China, it will divert to Australia in late 2023 ahead of the vehicle’s local release in 2024.
Todd says some of Australia’s smartest engineering minds are involved in the project, which has already included extensive off-road driving.
“We had five of Australia’s top engineers that have worked on some of the best-selling vehicles in that category and they were mind-boggled as to the capabilities of this vehicle – what it could do, the ease of which it could do it… then flip straight into driving on the highway like it’s a luxury sedan,” he said.
Todd added that the team of five “developed, engineered and designed some of the highest selling products in Australia over the last 20 years” and that they are playing an integral role in ensuring the new ute is up to the punishment of Australian roads and the demands of ute buyers.
“We also want to make sure we do a lot of testing in Australia,” he said. “It’s commencing later this year and it’ll be very intensive. We’ll put it through its paces in all conditions.”
Todd said the focus is on preparing BYD’s first ute for Australia’s ute battleground, which is one of the world’s biggest and most lucrative ute markets.
“We’ve invested a lot of money and time and effort in having our own top-notch engineers work on the project in partnership with BYD and that’s to ensure… [the ute has] every opportunity to meet or exceed what’s in the market,” he said.
The BYD ute will use the brand’s DM-i (dual-mode) hybrid powertrain technology, which allows electric-only driving but has the backup of a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine to extend its range and performance.
In 2025, there will also be a battery-electric version that runs solely on electricity.
Todd said the BYD ute “will be attractive for your die-hard, hard-core enthusiasts that love to go off-road on weekends”.
Like the BYD Atto 3 mid-size electric SUV – BYD Australia’s only model so far – it will also include a vehicle-to-load function that allows the car to act as a generator to power external electrical devices such as camping gear or work tools.
The big question is how much the unnamed BYD ute will sell for.
When asked if it would play in the $50,000-$70,000 sweet spot of the Australian ute market, Todd very quickly said “yes”. Asked to clarify if that applied to the hybrid version as well as the EV, he also said yes.
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