China's 2017 BYD E6 Granted CARB Certification, But Retail Sales Still a Question Mark

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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2 of 12 comments
  • Arach Arach on May 17, 2017

    no mention of crash tests, even in the comments?

  • Chan Chan on May 17, 2017

    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.

  • Lynchenstein @EBFlex - All ICEs are zero-emission until you start them up. Except my mom's old 95 Accord, that used to emit oil onto the ground quite a lot.
  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.
  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
  • ToolGuy $1 billion / 333.3 million = $3 per U.S. person ¶ And what do I get for my 3 bucks -- cleaner air and lower fuel prices? I might be ok with this 🙂🙂