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Shanghai auto show crowds flock to BYD’s Seagull

© Reuters. People use their phones in front of the BYD Seagull that is displayed at the Auto Shanghai show, in Shanghai, China April 19, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song
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By Casey Hall

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – At the Shanghai auto show this week, the largest crowds can be found around an unassuming, bright yellow hatchback parked at the booth of China’s largest electric carmaker BYD.

Dubbed the “Seagull”, BYD’s latest electric vehicle (EV) made its debut at the event this week, stunning visitors not so much for its look or its features, but the fact it will sell from just 78,000 yuan ($11,300) – around half the price of the cheapest new energy vehicles available elsewhere.

“It’s my kind of car, it’s suitable for driving to and from work, and you don’t need to manage anything, just use the battery … it’s also a relatively low cost product,” said Fan Yuhong, 28, a visitor to the fair who works in advertising and was among those at the booth.

The car is available in two range versions from 305 to 405 kilometres (190 to 252 miles), with a fast charging system that will allow it to ramp up from 30% to 80% charge within 30 minutes, according to BYD. It will run on a lithium iron phosphate BYD Blade battery.

Bill Russo, the Shanghai-based founder and CEO of strategic advisory firm Automobility, predicts the Seagull will become the best selling car in China within six months of its launch.

“This redefines the whole market in terms of a price value proposition,” he said.

In recent years, the rise of Chinese automakers has remade the competitive landscape of the world’s largest auto market, and those companies, including BYD, are now readying to take their cut-throat domestic prices global by increasing exports.

Russo predicts the value proposition of the Seagull will be compelling to overseas customers.

“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 said.

($1 = 6.9003 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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