Chinese electric vehicle now available in Australia
Hire-car and taxi fleets the focus initially
Large-scale charging infrastructure to be rolled out
The BYD E6 electric vehicle is now available to buy in Australia, thanks to the expansion of an existing partnership between the Chinese manufacturer and local specialised transport company Carbridge.
The E6’s potential for a local launch first came to light in February, when the high-riding all-electric people-mover appeared in the Road Vehicle Certification System (RVCS), a government database of models certified for compliance with Australian standards.
CarAdvice has now learned that Carbridge will initially target fleet contracts, but private buyers will also be accommodated.
Speaking with CarAdvice today, Carbridge CEO Luke Todd said that while the company will focus on taxi and hire-car businesses in the short term, private buyers are “absolutely” welcome to make contact about a purchase.
Adopting an E6 as a family hauler would not be a cheap exercise, however, with Todd confirming a purchase price of around $80,000.
Todd admits that the E6 is priced closer to a Tesla Model S than to the Nissan Leaf hatch, but he believes that the Chinese car’s large 75kWh battery pack and 300km driving range, along with its size and interior space, make for a value-for-money package.
The sleek and premium Model S begins at around $140,000 in Australia, with the 70D model offering a driving range of 470 kilometres. The Nissan Leaf is priced from $39,990 and, in its current Australian form, packs a 24kWh battery system and a driving range of between 150 to 216km.
The E6 fits somewhere in between, in terms of price and driving range, while offering a five-seat family-sized interior. A planned update to the car’s battery technology will increase its range by a further 25 per cent, Todd said.
Todd acknowledged that the Australian market has not yet warmed to auto brands out of China, but he said that the key desires of build quality and safety technology are a primary focus for BYD.
To prove it, Carbridge will submit the E6 for safety testing by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), and Todd is confident the vehicle will receive top marks.
The E6 marks Carbridge’s first foray into passenger vehicles, with most of its business based on providing and operating buses for airports.
It’s that business that brought Carbridge to introduce the E6, with the company already working with BYD on a joint-venture to introduce the Toro, an airport-transport electric bus that claims a 15-hour operation time off a three-hour charge, with capacity for 70 passengers.
Todd said that Carbridge will sharpen its sales, marketing and retail strategy for the E6 over the next three to six months, while also putting together an experienced team to operate its new vehicle arm as an offshoot company.
That new outfit will be responsible for marketing and distributing not only the E6, but also a number of other BYD models in the future. Todd flagged the petrol-powered BYD S7 (below), a Lexus RX lookalike, as one potential model for Australia.
For now, the E6 is the only BYD model available in right-hand-drive. Todd said this is largely due to significant demand for BYD models in China, meaning that the company is currently focused on left-hand-drive production.