A major deal has been signed between Chinese auto giant BYD and electric transport company Nexport that will see BYD electric cars on sale in Australia from 2022.
The Driven first broke the story of the potential deal with BYD in 2020, noting there would be four models brought in via a direct-to-consumer import model that would bypass traditional dealership auto sales.
With a limited range of electric vehicles available locally, the introduction of the BYD range would “dramatically broaden the menu,” The Driven editor Giles Parkinson noted.
A number of BYD vehicles are already on Australian roads operating as a fleet of “zero emissions and zero contact” electric taxis under Nexport sister company eTaxiCoon the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
Another of these vehicles – a BYD Han – arrived in January for evaluation purposes, with Nexport CEO Luke Todd taking one for a spin on a private road.
The Han will be joined by a plug-in hybrid crossover called the BYD Song, the BYD Qin compact sedan (pronounced Chin), and the premium BYD Tang.
Nexport’s deal with BYD is the first such agreement the Chinese company has entered into globally and represents a potential major shift in how the local market deals with the lack of electric cars on Australian roads.
By the end of 2021 it is expected there will be approximately 30 electric cars available on the new car market, and there are a number of “bulk buy” and “grey import” programs in operation that can help Australians drivers access electric car models not available locally.
In a market where less than 1% of new car sales are electric, carmakers in Australia have been reticent about introducing more models while a lack of supportive government policy persists.
Todd says that by circumventing the dealership model, the BYD vehicles will be up to 30% cheaper. In October Todd told Parkinson that drivers can expect prices to range from $60,000 up to 100,000 for the top-end Tang.
BYD’s vehicles all come with its proprietary Blade lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery that the company says is safer and more compact than typical ternary lithium EV batteries.
Tesla is also now shipping its Model 3, which is also equipped with an LFP battery, from China. It started sourcing Chinese batter maker CATL’s LFP packs in 2020 as part of an effort to localise parts and reduce battery costs.
This in part enabled it to drop the price of the Model 3 in China to qualify for state subsidies. It was thought that Tesla might reduce the price of the Model 3 in Australia also but this has not yet eventuated, having already dropped by the price by $7,000 to a $66,900 base price in late 2020.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.