By on May 16, 2017

[Image: BYD]

For those of you not glued to the latest in Chinese electric car news, the BYD (Build Your Dreams) E6 was the best-selling electric vehicle in the world’s most populous country last year. Forget about Nissan or Tesla — BYD is the real electric stud overseas.

The E6 is a conventional-looking four-door crossover (or tall hatch, if you prefer) offered in a number of markets, including the United States. However, here the E6 is marketed as an “electric taxi” and offered only to fleet buyers. A handful have arrived already, but the Berkshire Hathaway-backed automaker has larger plans for the U.S.

BYD currently sells electric transit buses and medium-duty trucks in the U.S., though about 80 E6 cars were reported as operational early last year, most of them in New York City. Another 25 exist in Chicago’s Uber fleet. The E6 took the 2015 model year off as the automaker’s engineers upgraded its battery capacity, returning for 2016.

Attempts to discover an up-to-date number have met with little information. In an email to Green Car Reports late last year, BYD claimed it “has not launched consumer vehicle sales in North America, but has sold more than 16,000 e6s worldwide year to date.”

“When BYD does launch in North America, we look forward to competitive sales figures here as well,” the automaker wrote.

On May 5th, the California Air Resources Board issued certification for the 2017 E6, solidifying the most recent model’s status as a zero-emission vehicle and allowing it access to America’s roadways. At this point, the only thing standing in BYD’s way for a U.S. consumer launch is the hurdles that come with setting up shop in another country.

Speaking to Reuters in January, BYD’s deputy general manager for branding and public relations, Li Yunfei, said a plan wasn’t yet set in stone.

“It could be adjusted,” Li said of the timeline. “Now we can only say roughly 2 to 3 years.”

In its taxi role, BYD advertises the E6 as possessing a range of “about 250 miles” from its 80 kWh battery pack, claiming it “operates for two shifts for nearly 24 hours with opportunity charging.” The vehicle’s electric motor is good for 121 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, propelling the E6 to a top speed of 87 miles per hour.

In a move seen as a precursor to a U.S. introduction, BYD hired famous lecturer and sometime actor Leonardo DiCaprio last year as its global brand ambassador.

[Image: BYD]

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12 Comments on “China’s 2017 BYD E6 Granted CARB Certification, But Retail Sales Still a Question Mark...”

  • avatar

    If it really can do 200+ miles on a charge, I think it has a chance. The time for sub-100 mile EV is gone. They were a stop-gap until truly long-range EV became a possibility.
    I haven’t heard of the BYD E6.
    Does it support fast charging? if so,which type?
    Then there is just that small matter of actually selling them here. Marketing, dealerships, mechanical support, parts supply, you know, the little details.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t answer your question, but what I have noticed is that the e6 is a real kWh hog. It has’s worst kWh/100mi rating ever, 20% worse than even the hungriest Model X. So if it truly has a range of 250 miles the batteries must be immense, which means they’ll take longer to recharge regardless of method.

  • avatar

    Cars/transportation have been sold for so long as vanity/status/compensation that this could work. Car literally as appliance. Plug it in. It Goes. If it passes crash, coming in to the market outside the traditional GM ladder could be a game changer.

    In the ham radio world, Japanese radios set price, usually 3-500 for a dual band radio from a quality company. The Chinese came in, and now the almost equal radio is $100-300. They aren’t quite there yet, but the established majors suffer from Detroit level isolation. The chinese radios are still clear copies of the japanese-often the same programming software works, yet they have taken over the new ham market. I’ve had both, and the cheap radios are 75% for 20% of the money.

    The last real appliance was the Checker Cab. If they were to really make this a refrigerator there would be a market. Millennials care about cars, but differently.

    If someone comes in to disrupt the car industry (not Tesla, who is a traditional stock market fantasy, merit of product notwithstanding) it will be welcomed by all the folks who rationally think a $7500 Accord should be possible instead of debt slavery and bottom feeding.

    • 0 avatar

      Two things effect the process of items becoming “appliances”.

      First the fact that income hasn’t kept up with the costs of new products. Those prices being driven by many times unecessarily outside forces.
      Second, and equally important is the increase of “stuff” vying for that income check(and similarly attention). Phones, computers, electronics being the clearest examples.

      When’s the last time anyone here bought silverware? I mean actual utensils made from actual sterling silver? The amount I paid for our set of silverware could have bought a very, very nice car. Very few people are willing to buy “nice” things anymore.
      Of course buying the cheap alternatives means it’s lower quality, breaks more often, and parts/replacements are many times unavailable. We can see from the current car market that consumers have accepted lower quality alternatives leaving few acceptable products.

      • 0 avatar

        I dont buy this argument that we are buying lower quality stuff now a days. At least one cannot generalize it. Specifically cars, their quality is much better and technology/safety has improved a lot.
        Definitely, a big part of Walmart is full of cheap low quality stuff. Especially true of their furniture. But still a lot of other categories have improved because of Chinese manufacturing and economy of scales.

        • 0 avatar

          Quality of the Engineering process and knowledge of materials have improved certainly. But instead of taking full advantage of these material and process break throughs we are chasing a moving goal that involves using cheaper and thinner material in lieu of applying technical advances to existing forms.

          Certainly cars are safer, but using metal gauges used 50 years ago, advanced material processes to create bumpers, and advanced body isolation techniques to protect occupants from accidents would increase safety to a point of diminishing returns.

          But instead we are offered vehicles that are designed so cheaply that they must use bracing at certain points to game the safety tests. Bumpers are made of polyurethane backed by a high density foam. Modern techniques make high strength collapsible steel a much better crash protectant that doesn’t require a hideous and bulbous front and rear end. The increasing use of unibody construction is another clear money saving, quality shaving production method. You lose the suspensions isolation, lose the improved crash capability both by loss of crushable material secondly by the much needed weight.

          While technological improvements improve quality assurance techniques. Don’t confuse newer technology with quality. Having the latest in-dash computer does not by itself make a new car of higher quality than the outgoing model with the old infotainment system.

          But I have to respectively disagree we aren’t buying lower quality material. The handmade products in my house have much better build techniques, attention to detail, and material quality. Specifically furniture, clothes, and metalware.

          • 0 avatar

            Incandescent light bulbs are another great example, the last couple of years their quality has been so poor you would think someone was playing a joke on you. I have to pickup Pennsylvania manufacturered light bulbs every time I head up toward Asheville – as I work through all these Chinese bulbs blowing out every couple of months.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Japanese shortwave radios and ham equipment are unsurpassed. Chinese radios are like Chinese tools – attractive prices, but disappointing in the long term.
      We’re better off with a good used car than a new Chinese car, at least until they can prove otherwise.


  • avatar

    The quality of the product, both short and long term, are going to be the deciding factors. As well as how long it will take to override the Internet meme of “Chinese products are junk” which tends to run on long after a specific product has proved itself to be good quality.

    I’ve got a fair bit of experience with Chinese vehicles, having lived with a Jinan Qingqi 150cc scooter for three years; as opposed to my current Yamaha Zuma 125 which is in it’s third year on the road as we speak. There isn’t a lot of difference between them. In the three years and 10k I put on the Qingqi, total failures were one brake light handlebar switch that failed after I hit it too long with the power washer, and a bolt holding the muffler snapped from metal fatigue.

    The Yamaha, in year three and at 6500 miles has been flawless. The Yamaha gives me 1-2mph greater top speed from 25cc less (fuel injection and water cooled vs. the Qingqi’s carburetors and air cooling). The Yamaha is happy at 55mph. The Qingqi would do 55 without complaint, but was a bit happier at 50.

    The Yamaha cost $3000.00, the Qingqi was $1800.00 ten years ago (I’ll estimately $2100-2300.00 today)

    Overall, if BYD can come up with a commuter appliance with the same quality and durability of the Jinan Qingqi, I’m interested.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I found the same applies to Harbor Freight tools. Many on the internet rant about the low quality of hand tools from HF, but I think they are living in the past. When you consider price and quality, the value there is hard to beat.
      I used to buy Craftsman tools, but have switched to HF because the local Sears hardware store near me closed and HF is more convenient and less costly.
      Of all the sockets, wrenches and ratchets I have from HF, only a 1/2″ breaker bar failed (I was standing on it) under load. I brought it back to HF and it was replaced without question.
      When I compare the tools that I bought there 10 years ago to what they sell now, it’s clear that they are moving up the quality ladder while selling for much less than the traditional name brand tools.
      If BYD can sell “good enough” electric cars at a serious discount to competitors while maintaining decent service, they will eventually get a foot hold in NA.

  • avatar

    no mention of crash tests, even in the comments?

  • avatar

    I’d love to see the IIHS get their hands on one of these.

    On a positive note, the F3 did pretty well in the Euro-NCAP offset test.

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