BYD Co Ltd launched on Wednesday five lower-priced versions of its Seal sedan, as the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) giant seeks to extend its lead in the world’s largest market for new-energy cars.
The price of the rear-wheel drive Seal Champion Edition with a 550 kilometre (341.75 miles) driving range per charge starts at 189,800 yuan ($27,459.09), 10 per cent lower than a previous version with the same driving range, BYD’s website showed.
That is also 18 per cent cheaper than the rear-wheel drive version of Tesla Inc’s Model 3 in China with a driving range of 556 kilometres, against which the Seal model seeks to compete.
BYD, China’s best-selling electrified vehicle maker, launched the Seal sedan under its Ocean series in July 2022 which was designed in a sporty style and equipped with intelligent features. It sold 19,573 Seal cars in the first quarter, while China sales of the Model 3 totalled 42,782 units in the same period, showed data from China Passenger Car Association.
China’s EV market is in the throes of a price war started by Tesla earlier this year, with several EV makers including BYD following the U.S. automaker’s example by cutting prices for best-selling models this year to defend market share.
The EV price war is also drawing sales away from internal combustion engine vehicles as the price gap between the technologies narrows.
BYD has so far led the new energy vehicle (NEV) market with its various offerings of battery-only and plug-in hybrid models priced under 300,000 yuan. At the recent Shanghai autoshow, it hit headlines by unveiling an electric hatchback costing half the price of the cheapest NEVs available elsewhere.
It has outgrown Germany’s Volkswagen as the best-selling passenger vehicle brand in China in the last two quarters.
But signs of weaker demand are also appearing as BYD reduced shifts at two of its auto assembly plants in recent weeks, Reuters reported in March.