BYD wasn’t at the Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS) the last time we were here because the world’s largest EV maker is a new entrant in Thailand’s auto scene – the brand was launched in August last year.
The Chinese EV specialist’s local partner and distributor is Rever Automotive, led by Pratarnwong ‘Pok’ Phornprapha, the third generation heir of Siam Motors Group, an old name in the local car industry associated with Nissan in Thailand. The partnership has big ambitions – CEO Pratarnwong has declared his aim for BYD to be among the top five biggest carmakers in Thailand in five years.
BYD may be a Warren Buffett-backed carmaker that’s now a Fortune 500 company, but this is Thailand we’re talking about, the “Detroit of the East” dominated by Japanese carmakers who have deep roots in the market. To be top five, BYD will have to displace some giants. And it has no pure ICE models, having decided to focus only on EVs and plug-in hybrids, mostly the former.
BYD’s BIMS 2023 booth reflects its ambitions. It’s so dense with EVs that it looks like the company transplanted one of its China showrooms to Impact Muang Thong Thani. Indeed, most are China-market LHD cars with Chinese characters as logos. In the sea of elegant-looking SUVs that are inoffensive, if a little generic, lies this pretty little EV – the BYD Seal.
And it’s coming to Malaysia too. BYD SD Motors Malaysia has revealed plans to bring in the Dolphin and Seal models after its debut model, the Atto 3. The Seal and the Dolphin – an affordable electric hatchback – are targeted for a Q4 2023 debut. Both were previewed at the Atto 3 launch in December.
The Seal is a four-door coupe type of sedan with a sloping roofline and short rear deck, not unlike the Honda Civic FC and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. Conveniently, the latter has an electric version called the i4, which we’ll compare to the Seal later.
If you look at this Seal’s dimensions, its 4,800 mm length and 1,875 mm width is just hairs away from the BMW i4‘s 4,783 mm and 1,852 mm. The BYD – a dedicated, ground-up EV – has a longer wheelbase though; at 2,920 mm, the distance between wheels is 64 mm longer. The Seal sits on the EV specialist’s latest e-platform 3.0, the third model to do so after the Dolphin and Atto 3. However, the Seal uses an 800V electrical architecture like posh EVs such as the Porsche Taycan and sexy Audi e-tron GT.
In China, there are four variants of the Seal. The RWD Elite and Premium have a single 201 hp motor driving the rear wheels and powered by a 61.4 kWh in-house Blade battery. Such equipped, the local CLTC range per charge is 550 km and 0-100 km/h acceleration takes 7.5 seconds.
A 308 hp motor is mated to a 82.5 kWh battery in the Long Range RWD, boosting range to 700 km. The 250 km gain over the base combo also comes with a better 0-100 km/h time, now at 5.9 seconds. The ultimate Seal is the Long Range AWD Performance. As the AWD in the name suggests, there are two motors here for a combined 523 hp and 0-100 km/h time in 3.8 seconds. The sole dual-motor variant’s range is 650 km.
The Seal is often described as a Tesla Model 3 rival. The Model 3 comes in Standard, Long Range and Performance variants, with the latter two equipped with dual-motor AWD. The Long Range AWD is probably the best balance between price and performance, with a claimed range of 576 km (Standard 437 km, Performance 506 km) and 0-100 km/h time of 4.2 seconds. The Performance does it in 3.1 seconds.
Meanwhile, the BMW i4 – in top M50 form with a 83.9 kWh battery – has two motors, AWD, total system output 544 PS and a 0-100 km/h time of 3.9 seconds. Range is 510 km on the WLTP cycle, which is 80 km less than the 590 km of the less-powerful eDrive40 version. As you can see, the Seal is very much in the same arena as the BMW i4 and Tesla Model 3, and is even ahead in some areas.
Since Tesla is not yet officially in Malaysia, we’ll look at the BMW i4 for pricing context. The i4 eDrive40 M Sport is priced at RM389,800 with BMW Malaysia’s extended warranty and service package, while the i4 M50 is yours for RM430,800.
In China, the BYD Seal starts from the equivalent of RM210k, but the Long Range RWD with the 700 km range goes for the equivalent of RM259k. Would BYD SDM be able to squeeze it in below the RM300k mark in Malaysia?
If so, we’d be looking at a great-looking EV with top-level specs at a relatively affordable price. Even if it’s priced above RM300k, the BYD Seal is well-placed to be the most affordable long-range EV in Malaysia when it arrives in Q4 2023. What do you think of it as a value proposition, and do you dig the looks?
Again, the Seal is set to reach our shores in the final quarter of this year. For now, we have the impressive Atto 3 as BYD’s debut product in Malaysia – click here for our full review of the electric crossover.
The post Bangkok 2023: BYD Seal – pretty 700 km range EV has nice detailing; coming to Malaysia in Q4 this year appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.
* This article was originally published here
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