The BYD e6 is a view of the future, that’s what, some pundits say. Chinese car makers are too busy catering to their massive domestic market to bother much with exports — but that’s certainly not the case with BYD.
It's China’s sixth-largest car maker and has imported 50 of its e6 all-electric hatchbacks to the UK and begun a process of “polishing” them for the European market by directing initial sales to professional fleet customers, and by engaging consultants such as Ricardo and MIRA to help.
The car is a neat-looking five-door hatchback, powered by a single 119bhp electric motor with a peak torque of 332lb ft. More powerful versions have been built, but BYD reckons this single-engined version, which can cruise easily and comfortably at 70-75mph yet has a real-world range of around 140 miles (an “official” 180 miles is claimed) makes more sense for the airport fleet and taxi service operators to use it.
BYD’s first UK deal is with the green taxi firm, Green Tomato, but the company is also selling cars in Switzerland, France and Germany. European MD Isbrand Ho wants a fleet of 2500 e6s running in Europe by the end of next year.
The e6 is slightly smaller than a Land Rover Freelander, with a similar elevated driving position and a similar level of cabin luxury, except its colours, materials and surfaces are unlikely to suit Europe’s private buyers.