One of China's largest electric vehicle companies BYD has signed an agreement to sell cars in Australia, with the first cars due to arrive next year.
BYD has been experimenting in Australia with a handful of cars since 2015 – it has had five electric taxis on Sydney's roads for the past five years. A BYD SUV, sedan and van have also been spotted in Sydney in the past six months.
Initially, the Australian distributor, Nexport, plans to sell BYD vehicles online only; for now it says there are no plans to establish a dealer showroom network. Pricing is expected to be revealed later this year.
The agreement sees Nexport become the brand's right-hand drive market distributor within the Asia-Pacific region.
The arrangement marks the first third-party agreement of this kind that BYD has entered into globally.
Speaking exclusively to CarAdvice, Nexport CEO Luke Todd claims its business strategy "shakes up the Australian dealership model" and will "deliver high quality electric vehicles from the manufacturer direct to the customer".
"The dealership network model is broken when it comes to electric vehicles. Under our model, we will be reducing the price to consumers by as much as 30 per cent," said Todd.
"A heavy reliance on aftersales and convoluted importation processes adds unnecessary cost. By revamping these processes, we're targeting a sale price that's at parity with internal combustion vehicles."
While Nexport has already imported current-generation BYD electric vehicles into Australia, they are not the final products Australians will be purchasing.
Nexport plans to launch a future range of BYD products that have yet to be revealed globally.
"All next generation BYD products will feature the brand's proprietary 'Blade Battery' technology, and are unlike any other offerings currently in Australia" added Todd.
CarAdvice understands the first BYD cars destined for Australia will be revealed at the Shanghai Auto Show on 21 April 2021.
We also expect that the Australian line-up will consist of only fully-electric offerings, and include a medium-sized SUV, and medium-sized sports sedan – similar to the BYD Han (pictured above) that's currently in Australia on promotional duty.
Nexport plans to pre-launch the BYD brand in Australia mid-way through this year, and begin accepting pre-orders at that time
It also has plans to open up a customer experience centre in the Sydney CBD, to build interest before first customer deliveries commence in the first half of 2022.
Last year, BYD reportedly sold 461,399 vehicles globally. Of that figure, 130,970 were fully-electric vehicles, and 48,084 plug-in hybrids with internal combustion assistance.
The brand hired former Audi head designer Wolfgang Egger as its chief designer, and has recently opened a multi-billion dollar electric vehicle R&D centre in Shenzhen, China.
Nexport is a subsidiary of Australian-owned renewable energy investment firm TrueGreen. The brand has recently announced a AU$700 million plan to manufacture zero-emissions busses in the Southern Highlands district of New South Wales.