The technology works and its claimed range is impressive. Not as rounded as the Nissan Leaf

What is it?

BYD has big plans for its e6 electric car. Last year the Chinese firm claimed that the car would be launched in the US in December. However, that date has come and gone, with the car looking no closer to being launched. The e6 is China’s first purpose-built electric car and we’ve driven a pre-production model. In the metal, the car is imposing and similar in size to a Land Rover Freelander.

What's it like?

Standing tall, it has the look of a crossover that has had its plastic cladding stripped. Panel fit is poor, even by Chinese standards, but should be sorted out before production.

The interior of our test model was the same utilitarian design as used in the fleet of e6 taxis being put through their paces in the southern Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen, where BYD is based. BYD has displayed a version overseas with a more contemporary look, including steering wheel-mounted controls and sat-nav.

Our version’s cabin, though, looked more turn of the century, with hard, shiny plastics dominating the black and tan dashboard. A CD player, air conditioning and push-button start are the only concessions to technology, other than the fancy digital instruments, complete with the all-important remaining range estimate.

The leather seats are comfortable enough, but a high seating position in the rear, caused by the battery pack, would make long-distance travel uncomfortable; the new eco version is meant to improve this. Boot space is also heavily curtailed.

BYD currently limits testing to its premises, which prevents a full test of its claimed range of 186 miles.

Although the car tips the scales at 2295kg, the steering is light. Speed humps and control lines were the only real test for the suspension, which appears to give a soft ride. Acceleration, though, proved sluggish, with a need to really floor the pedal.

Should I buy one?

Along with hybrids, the e6 is likely to spearhead BYD’s push into global markets. With a claimed range of around twice that of the Nissan Leaf, it appears tempting. But although the technology appears to be there, the overall finish needs considerable improvement before it is up to the task.

Mark Andrews

Pictures: Autosohu

BYD E6 Hatchback

Price: £24,000 (est); Top speed: 87mph; 0-62mph: 14.0sec; Economy: 21kWh/100km; CO2: 0g/km (tailpipe); Kerb weight: 2295kg; Engine: 75kW electric motor; Power: 101bhp at 7500rpm; Torque: 332lb ft at 7500rpm; Gearbox: Direct drive; Range: 186 miles

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LP in Brighton 27 June 2011

Re: BYD E6 Hatchback

OK, so what we can deduce from the technical info is that this car has a whopping 63kWh battery if it achieves a 300km range atb 21kWh/100km. Just to put things into perspective this is about two and a half times the capacity of the Nissan Leaf battery!

This not only means that a substantial amount of energy will be wasted merely transporting this battery around but the replacement cost of said battery will probably account for the whole of the £24,000 estimated price. Unless of course the Chinese have made a battery breakthrough that we don't know about.

Mr£4worth 24 June 2011

Re: BYD E6 Hatchback


michael knight 24 June 2011

Re: BYD E6 Hatchback

supermanuel wrote:
In styling terms it looks like a mid 90's Toyota with a Previa dashboard. They're still some way behind with their design.

Easily rectified though by hiring some Euro talent.

Surprised by the weedy acceleration with 332lb/ft of torque..