BYD E6 Electric Crossover Expected to Sell for $40k in US

By Chris Haak

Chinese automaker BYD, fresh off announcing acquisition of a North American headquarters in Los Angeles, plans to sell its E6 electric vehicle in the US for about $40,000, according to China’s government-run People’s Daily Online.  Thirty examples of the E6 have been delivered to Shenzhen-based Pengcheng Electric Taxi Company for evaluation.  According to PDO, the taxis are the world’s first pure electric taxis.

The general manager of BYD Auto, Xia Zhibing, claims that preparations are well underway for the E6 to enter the US market.  The company’s public relations manager, Du Guozhong, told the paper that the BYD E6 has “passed all tests including battery safety tests in the United States, and will go on sale in U.S. markets in 2010 for around 40,000 U.S. dollars.”

Being a mouthpiece of China’s government, and absent any independent verification, one must take some of the linked article’s claims with a battery-powered grain of salt.  BYD claims a range of 300 km (186 miles) on a full charge of the five-passenger E6.  The E6 is much larger than the Nissan Leaf, yet nearly doubles the Nissan’s claimed 100-mile range.  BYD also claims a 15-minute fast-charge that takes the batteries to 80 percent capacity; the Leaf also has a fast-charge capability, but requires 30 minutes to reach the 80 percent mark.

Let’s assume for a moment that the BYD E6 can meet all of the stated performance measures, and that it sets new standards for EV range and charging time.  If so, that’s an impressive accomplishment.  But how willing would US consumers be to jump into an unknown Chinese-made electric car, when alternatives from more-established players cost some $8,000 less, even given BYD’s assumed battery advantage?  I’m not so sure.

The closing statement in the People’s Daily Online article notes that pricing is expected to come down once production and sales volumes increase.  Unfortunately for BYD, they face some pretty substantial hurdles before  they get to the point where that happens, and it remains to be seen whether the E6 can be successful in the most-competitive automobile market in the world.

Kudos to BYD for giving it a shot, though.  If the company’s battery technology pans out, BYD may find those larger, more established automakers knocking at its door for a crack at its “super iron batteries.”

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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