‘Seagull’ aims to crack the market for cheap EVs
STORY: An unassuming little car is drawing crowds at this week’s Shanghai auto show. The ‘Seagull’ is the latest electric vehicle from fast-growing Chinese auto giant BYD. But it’s not the performance or power that people are interested in, it’s the price. The car is due to go on sale for just over $11,000. That’s about half the price of comparable vehicles. And BYD hopes that it will challenge notions that electric vehicles are always going to be the higher-cost option. At least some potential car buyers seem to agree. It does all you need, and it’s cheap for an EV, says this man. For now, BYD hasn’t spelled out how it can sell the car for such a low price. But automotive industry consultant Bill Russo predicts the Seagull will be China’s best-selling car within six months of going on sale: “When you can offer this much value for this much money, you are going to attract a much bigger market. We have already “Proven the price elasticity of demand for the EV as the price war has taken root. But this kind of redefines the whole market price/value proposition.”Other Chinese brands look set to follow the Seagull’s lead. Nio says it will launch a more affordable brand, initially targeting Europe, then maybe the USWestern firms including Renault are also using China as a base to produce low-cost EVs for export.As for BYD, it hasn’t yet spelled out any export plans for the Seagull.But industry watchers say such a price could prove compelling well beyond China.
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