A new electric hatchback made by Chinese carmaker BYD that is backed by veteran investor Warren Buffet will sell in Australia well below the $A35,000 mark, reports say.
It will be one of five electric cars to be introduced by Nexport, a company that has a direct-to-consumer business model called “EVDirect” that it is underpinning a goal to make affordable electric cars available to Australian drivers.
Named the e2, it was first unveiled at the Shanghai motor show in 2019, and the latest generation is tipped to have more power and a longer driving range of its predecessor.
The current model e2, which has a 35.2kWh battery and up to 305km driving range, sells in China at around 90,000 yuan which converts to about $A18,000.
The 2021 model will, according to Chinese media, be equipped with BYD’s upcoming “blade battery” that it says is far safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries that can succumb to thermal runaway if punctured.
BYD showed a video of the battery cell needle test at a press conference in March 2020 which showed a standard ternary lithium battery burning violently after being pierced by a steel needle, with the surface temperature exceeding 500°C. The blade battery by contrast showed no open flame or smoke, and the surface temperature was only 30-60°C.
The blade battery has up until now only been used in the company’s flagship “Han” electric sedan, one of which first arrived in Australia in January ahead of the launch of Nexport’s EVDirect initiative.
Specifications of the new e which will launch later in 2021, and details of BYD’s future plans for Australia, are expected to be revealed shortly.
It is understood that Nexport’s partnership with BYD is the first of its kind with the Chinese carmaker, which is uncommon in that it is only one of a few that makes its own batteries as well as its cars – Tesla being another example.
The deal will see five electric models made available to drivers including the premium BYD Tang electric SUV, a plug-in hybrid crossover called Song, and the BYD Qin (pronounced Chin), a compact sedan and of course the Han. The price range of vehicles on offer will be below $A35,000 at the bottom end and $A99,000 at the top.
Nexport also has a deal to import and then make electric buses and other vehicles at a planned $700 million factory in the Southern Highlands.
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 since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.