China’s number one car brand, BYD, is bringing a sixth model to Europe. It is dubbed the Seal U and represents an SUV version of its compact sibling. The car must rival Europe’s best-selling EV, the Tesla Model Y, relying on cost-saving LFP batteries and an 800-volt onboard network for faster charging.
The public premiere for the Seal U is planned for the IAA Mobility Show in Münich (from 5 to 10 September), where an important delegation of Chinese car brands will put new models on display – a remarkable feat, as many Western brands decided not to show up at the German mobility fair.
Two battery packs
Back to the Seal. The letter U in its name stands for Utility, though the car aims leisurely instead of commercial use. As a variant of the Seal, the sleek bodywork, very reminiscent of the natural style of the sedan version, sits on the company’s rigid 3.0 platform.
With a total length of 4,79 meters and a wheelbase of 2,7 meters, it is on par with the Tesla Model Y. From its home turf, the MG Marvel R can be regarded as the quintessential rival – MG is also the best-selling Chinese brand in Europe. The U will hit dedicated markets at the beginning of 2024.
Before the official unveiling, BYD had already released the details about the line-up and the battery packs. There will be two trim levels. The range starts with the 71.8 kWh pack Comfort, offering an autonomy of 412 kilometers, topped by a version with 87 kWh, called Design, offering a distance of 500 kilometers between charging sessions.
These figures comply with the European WLTP standards. Currently, the sedan Seal is only available with an 82 kWh pack, offering a range of 570 kilometers, so differences apply even though both models share the same underpinnings and technology. DC charging is possible at a peak rate of 140 kW.
The batteries are from the Blade generation, based on the more stable LFP chemistry, which is more fire-resistant and thus safer while relying less on critical materials. Though BYD hasn’t announced pricing yet, it should be competitive as LFP batteries benefit from lower production costs.
The cell-to-pack housing is also a clever way of increasing the efficiency of the battery system. It means, among others, that the pack’s lid is also the car’s floor.
There’s no info yet on the electric motors and their powers, but the all-wheel drive seems more than logical as this is also available on the sister model and fits the body style like a glove.
Premiere for Denza
Next to the Seal U, BYD will also launch its high-end subbrand Denza in Münich. The brand is a joint venture with German luxury car maker Mercedes and will showcase its seven-seater MPV D9. The MPV has a length of a whopping 5,2 meters and features a battery pack of 100 kWh.