Deliveries of the BYD Yuan Plus electric crossover are planned to commence in Australia from April, 2022, and will shake up the local EV market with an “amazing” price point and new standards in battery safety and warranty, says CEO of TrueGreen mobility group Luke Todd.
The company is gearing up to make the China-made electric crossover available for order in October via its subsidiary Nexport, which already has the BYD e6 MPV and an electric commercial van available in limited numbers at market-beating prices through its direct-to-consumer business EVDirect.
The 4.45m Yuan Plus will be pitched at the upper end of the market, and although a local price is not set yet for the smart crossover, Todd insists it will set “a whole new standard of what you get for the money.”
Australian specifications will be released closer to the launch date, but the China version is available in a standard range with 430km range (NEDC) and 50kWh battery, and an extended range with 510km range (NEDC) with 60kWh battery, while a 150kW motor delivers up to 310Nm torque.
For Australia, “there will be two variants,” Todd tells The Driven. “One will be the entry-level – without all premium features to enable a price point people will be amazed at, and a fully appointed model which will comfortably be the best EV on the market,” he says.
With numerous new EV models poised to enter the local auto market with an array of new features from vehicle-to-load power capabilities, 800-volt architectures, and 350kW ultra-fast-charging, these are bold words.
But there are a number of reasons that BYD, which stands for “Bring Your Dreams”, stands to transform driver expectations says Todd.
“First and foremost is that BYD “is at the heart is a battery company,” says Todd.
“They’re so far ahead they’ve even got Tesla wanting to buy batteries off them.”
In 2020 it unveiled its “Blade” battery which it said internal testing proved it is far safer than conventional lithium-ion batteries, which can experience thermal runaway if not effectively managed.
The Blade battery also reportedly tackles another aspect that is holding EVs back – price.
Batteries can cost up to half the cost of an electric vehicle, and analysts say that battery-making costs need to dip below $US100/kWh to make EVs comparable to combustion vehicles on purchase price.
It has been reported that this could occur by 2023-2024, but BYD may have already done that.
In July, Auto Evolution reported (via Yicai Global) that BYD has cut the cost of making its batteries to just 600 yuan per kilowatt hour – that is, $US92.50.
It’s just one reason EVDirect is able to introduce EVs to Australia at low prices, says Todd.
“It’s one of the key drives certainly,” he says. He adds that the Blade will also challenge other players on energy density, and the flexibility of its design which allows better engineering capabilities.
“Designers can build more flexibility without chunky heavy batteries,” he says.
“This is total disruption,” he says, adding that Nexport’s world-first deal with BYD allows drivers to avoid the 20-30% markup tacked on by dealer dealers.
On questions of safety, Todd says that because Nexport has been able to work with BYD to ensure suitability for the Australian market, it is already designed to meet 5-star ANCAP ratings. “We just need to put it through it,” he says.
And its warranty will set new standards in the industry also, he says.
“We can’t get exact numbers yet, but it will be compelling, especially in and around the battery side, which is the heart of the vehicle.”
Although recent Covid19 restrictions have played havoc with plans to open a series of “experience centres”, Todd says the company has secured a site in Sydney and hopes to open its first in October timed with the Yuan Plus launch.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and 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. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.