Tesla frenemy BYD unveils cute US$14,000 Model 2 competitor Seagull with blade battery
Back in January, a rumor that Tesla's main competitor BYD may unveil an affordable electric car for the masses was making the rounds, and BYD used the Shanghai Auto Show to not only demo it, but also place it up for preorder.
The top BYD Seagull is priced at just US$14,000 but offers 252 miles on a charge and a cute hot hatch design. It's rather tall and sporty looking and, instead of a Chevy Bolt competitor, could be considered a direct challenge to Tesla's Model 2. Elon Musk said it will be a "smaller, to be clear" EV that was later tipped to look like a tiny Model Y, instead of a shrunken Model 3.
The tall Seagull offers a lot of interior space for the category, yet stays very compact in terms of length because of its short front and trunk space. Its single motor offers 55 kW of power with 135 Nm torque that net decent acceleration and speeds.
The top BYD Seagull version is powered by a safe 39 kWh iron phosphate "blade" battery of the type that Tesla could use in the mass market Model 2, just with a larger average capacity of 53 kWh. The Model 2 will thus have the range advantage, as the 252 miles on a charge for the top BYD Seagull are on the overly generous CLTC cycle, rather than the EPA estimate which is 20-30% more realistic in US driving scenarios.
The Seagull has quick charge abilities, for that matter, pumping itself from 30%-80% battery in half an hour, so it sounds like a perfect solution for city and suburban driving. At a price starting from US$11,300 for the version with smaller battery, the Seagull "redefines the whole market in terms of a price value proposition," says analyst Bill Russo.
"Affordability is attractive to everyone anywhere, whether it's an emerging market, the United States or Europe, this kind of car with this kind of value proposition will sell," he added, and predicted that the BYD Seagull will become the bestselling car in China by year's end. If BYD launches the Seagull in the export market like it did with its current models, the Seagull may quickly become a household name and one of the first global EVs for the mass user.