BYD’s new all-electric ute will be designed and developed with Australian conditions in mind. That’s according to EV Direct boss Luke Todd, who recently visited BYD headquarters in China to help the process.
Mr Todd said his company, EV Direct, which distributes the Chinese vehicles in Australia, will employ a range of “designers, engineers and off-road experts” that will work with BYD to ensure the new ute is up to Australian customer expectations.
“There will be Australians working on the team to develop the vehicle,” Mr Todd said.
He added: “I’d go so far as to say it is a co-developed vehicle. It will be built for the world but have an Australian pulse.”
He stressed that local needs and customer preference will play a significant role in the development of the new ute. It’s unclear exactly how many EV Direct employees will be involved and what role they’ll take on within BYD, but Mr Todd was adamant that they will be influential in the design and testing of the new model.
“The BYD team and BYD Group is engineering the global ute/pickup to Australian conditions,” he told CarsGuide.
BYD’s Chinese rival, LDV, became the first brand to offer an all-electric ute in Australia when it launched the eT60 last month, but it has drawn criticism for its limited range (330km) and towing capacity (1000kg). While Mr Todd said it was too early to confirm any official specifications, he made it clear the intention will be to ensure the BYD ute will be capable enough to appeal to local buyers. He said his team had worked with the Chinese engineers to explain the unique needs and demands of Australian customers, especially in terms of towing.
“It will be developed for Australian use,” Mr Todd said. “It will be able to tow your boat or caravan. I can’t give you an exact number but, rest assured, it will be higher than 1000kg.”
He also confirmed that the ute will undergo “extensive” testing in Australia in 2023, as part of EV Direct’s wider plans to undertake more local testing for all BYD models. CarsGuide recently spotted a Dolphin small hatch testing in Sydney ahead of its launch in the first half of 2023.
Timing is yet to be locked in but he indicated it will likely be ready for launch sometime in 2024, which should still make it one of the first of its kind. While the likes of the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer and Rivian R1T are already available in the US market none of them are confirmed for local sale yet. And the Tesla Cybertruck remains in development with no clear timeframe on when – or even if – it will go on sale in Australia.
Asked about pricing, Mr Todd admitted it was too early to speculate but made it clear that ensuring its models were affordable for Australian buyers remains the priority for EV Direct and BYD.
“Price competitiveness is something that’s critical for all our vehicles,” he said.
The BYD Atto 3 is already the most affordable EV on sale in Australia today, at $44,381 (plus on-road costs) and the incoming Dolphin small car is expected to undercut that price.