MUNICH -- The Chinese EV powerhouse BYD is preparing to take on Tesla and Volkswagen in Europe with the new Seal midsize sedan and SUV midsize SUV, but executives say they won’t define success only by meeting sales targets.
The Seal will arrive later this year, at a price of 42,990 euros in Germany for the base rear-wheel drive model; an all-wheel drive version will be 50,990 euros.
Among competitors, the just-updated Tesla Model 3 starts at 45,560 euros in Germany, although prices have fluctuated with discounts. VW’s ID5 coupe-style SUV is 47,595 euros, while the coming ID7 midsize sedan will be in the mid-50,000 euro range.
Penny Peng, marketing director for BYD Europe, described the brand’s positioning as “premium accessible,” with cutting-edge technology at an affordable price as the leading selling point.
BYD is one of a host of Chinese brands that plan to enter the hyper-competitive European market, worrying European auto executives who say they have difficulty matching China's lower build costs.
The Seal is more performance-oriented than competitors such as the Model 3, Peng told Automotive News Europe in an interview at the at the IAA Mobility auto show in Munich, thanks to higher torsional stiffness from BYD’s E-Platform 3.0. The architecture features BYD’s in-house low-profile lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) “blade” battery, integrated power electronics and “cell to body” construction, meaning that the battery is a structural part of the vehicle.
“It’s really more like a super sports car,” Peng said. “You won’t get this kind of performance at this price” from rivals, she added.
BYD says the blade battery is more space efficient than competitors’ batteries, resulting in higher energy density and longer range.
The all-wheel drive Seal sedan has a WLTP range of 620 km (354 miles) from an 82.5-kilowatt-hour battery; 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) takes 3.8 seconds. Charging time from 30 percent to 80 percent is 26 minutes at a 150 kilowatt high-speed charge point, BYD says.
The Seal U arrives next year; prices have not been announced.