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BYD’s UK bosses are keen for the company to offer the low-cost BYD Seagull electric car to British buyers.

No decision has yet been taken however on if and when the 3.8-metre-long Seagull would launch in the UK, but if it does it would likely be the cheapest electric car on sale in the UK.

In China, it is priced from the equivalent of £8000, a price at which BYD is understood to make the car profitably and still offer a range close to 200 miles.

BYD’s UK marketing boss Mark Blundell said he was “keen to have it” when asked about the potential UK launch of the Seagull and said there was a clear space below the BYD Dolphin hatchback in the range for it. It is sold as the Dolphin Mini in some markets.

Blundell said it was BYD’s strategy to “make electric cars accessible to all” and keen pricing was part of that. “EVs shouldn’t just be for well-off people…[we need to] have affordable EVs in the range, and need accessible EVs, not just £50, 60, 70,000 ones”.

Blundell was speaking at an event to mark the one-year anniversary of BYD’s launch in the UK. The firm has not set any targets for UK sales or growth but the firm, which sold more electric cars than any other car maker globally last year, including Tesla, is well backed, well funded and ambitious - and growth akin to that achieved by MG in the UK is conceivable over the next few years.

In the medium term, Blundell said he’d like to see BYD “established as a credible brand, with an established infrastructure and dealer network and to be part of the landscape” in the UK. “We need coverage in key markets and robust aftersales.”

The firm plans to go from 21 to 60 dealers in the UK by the summer, giving good geographic coverage across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Blundell was the first staff member in the UK on BYD’s car side - it has been selling buses in the UK for 10 years now, too - but the firm has around 40 employees now and will be adding 100 or so more in the next few months.

BYD operates a wholesale retail model and keeps a good stock of cars to be able to get them to buyers quickly; Blundell quoted a typical two-week lead time to get cars to buyers after orders.

Part of its ability to keep costs so low is by producing so many parts in-house and owning so much of the logistics and supply chain; one example given by Blundell is that the firm has recently commissioned its own cargo ship that holds 7000 cars.

“We control what we can control,” he said. “We’re switched onto supply chain and logistics and ‘build our own’“ when it comes to components.

That policy will also extend to the firm’s new car European factory in Hungary that will be on stream next year, although Blundell said it was not yet decided which models would be built there.

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The firm has launched the BYD Atto 3, BYD Dolphin and BYD Seal electric cars in the UK to date, and will soon add the BYD Seal U SUV as its first hybrid here. Selling hybrids is part of BYD’s plan to be a “mainstream volume brand”, said Blundell.

The hi-tech Yangwang U8 SUV remains “a work in progress” for a UK launch, but doesn’t seem imminent, instead being recently brought here to demonstrate BYD’s technical capabilities.

Blundell said the firm hadn’t seen any negative impact from the tensions between the UK and China at a government level from customers. There had been no discussion on the impact of any potential tariffs that might also be imposed on Chinese cars in the future.

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Marc 3 April 2024
Blundell said it was BYD’s strategy to “make electric cars accessible to all” and keen pricing was part of that.

Where are these affordable Chinese EV's? Many would argue, BYDs current line up is far from affordable for most. Also, will this steal your chips if you park it on the sea front?

albert fig 2 April 2024

More Chinese products heavily subsidised, pushing the advertising. 

HiPo 289 2 April 2024

There were people queuing up in droves to test-drive BYDs at the Everything Electric Show in London last weekend. (Where was Autocar?)   There would have been even more people wanting test-drives if the Seagull had been there as well.