Shortly after the launch of the U8, BYD’s first luxury new energy vehicle, a new model named “Seagull” has been registered with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The Seagull adopts a five-door, five-seat structure, similar in shape to its Dolphin model. However, the Seagull’s length has been shortened from 4 meters to 3.78 meters, and its width and height have also been lowered, making it smaller than the Dolphin.
In terms of power, the Seagull will be equipped with a front drive motor with maximum power of 55 kW. If it is equipped with 44.9 kWh ferrous lithium phosphate battery like Dolphin, its pure electric cruising range will reach 401 km or 420 km.
The official retail price of the BYD Dolphin is from 116,800 yuan to 136,800 yuan ($17,437 -$20,423), while the retail price of the Seagull, which is positioned at the lower end, will be below 100,000 yuan, making it the least expensive BYD model at present.
Choosing to introduce a lower-priced model in the small electric vehicle market, BYD appears to believe that there is still room for development in this sector. According to the China Passenger Car Association’s data, from January to November, 2022, small cars accounted for 30% of the NEV market, and their retail share in the pure electric vehicle market reached 33.8%.
The sales volume of the BYD Dolphin was 26,000 units in December last year, only trailing the BYD Song PLUS DM-i. In 2022, cumulative sales of the Dolphin reached 204,200 vehicles, up 633.4% year-on-year.
BYD’s self-developed blade battery has a cost advantage in the small EV market. According to data from Shanghai Ganglian, the current price of battery-grade ferrous lithium phosphate is gradually falling to below 500,000 yuan/ton.
Cui Dongshu, Secretary-General of the China Passenger Car Association, said recently that the sufficient supply brought by a large amount of battery investment and upstream mineral investment is conducive to lowering resource prices. At present, the price of lithium carbonate has dropped below 400,000 yuan per ton, and the battery cost will inevitably drop significantly over the next few months.
BYD Seagull faces many competitors. Following the launch of the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV by SAIC-GM-Wuling in 2020, many micro and small pure electric vehicles have come out one after another. In 2022, retail sales of micro and small electric vehicles reached 1,511,200 units, with Wuling Hongguang Mini accounting for 24.5%, and the remaining 70% of the market share was divided between Changan Lumin, Chery QQ Ice Cream, Chery Little Ant, Geometry E, Leapmotor T03, NETA V and others.