BYD presents Ocean M compact car in Beijing, probably also bound for EU

BYD presented its new Ocean M electric car concept at the Beijing Motor Show. The production version of the hatchback will launch on the Chinese market in the third quarter of 2024 at a price between 150,000 and 200,000 yuan (some 19,300 to 25,800 euros).

It is not yet known whether BYD will also bring the Ocean M to Europe. However, “given the shape and appearance of the hatchback model”, the portal Car News China, for example, assumes that the Ocean M was “almost certainly developed with the European market in mind”.

Sporty, rear-wheel-drive

In terms of technology, the model is to be based on a new electric platform, possibly the successor to the current e-platform 3.0, which may be called e-platform 4.0. However, this has not yet been confirmed because BYD has not provided any technical data yet but has only made two rather general statements.

The Ocean M will feature a rear-wheel drive system and a new generation of cell-to-body batteries, most possibly a further development of the current blade batteries. BYD has already dispensed with a separate floor panel for the Seal electric saloon; the cover of the battery housing also forms the floor of the interior.

The Ocean M exhibited at the trade fair, has an emphatically sporty design with a rear spoiler and a hint of a diffuser. BYD itself claims that the Ocean M is “the first high-performance hatchback model with rear-wheel drive”. In fact, most other high-performance compact cars, such as the MG4 XPower, have all-wheel drive.

Seagull confirmed for Europe

It has now been confirmed that BYD will be bringing its Seagull small electric car to Europe next year as a version adapted to the European market. However, it is not yet known how this version will differ from the current Chinese model. Stella Li, Executive Vice President of BYD, told journalists at the trade fair that even she had not yet seen the European version.

So, it remains to be seen whether the changes go beyond adapting the charging standard from the Chinese GB/T to CCS, which is widely used in Europe. In its current version, the Seagull is a 3.78-meter-long subcompact car with a battery of up to 39 kWh.

The BYD Seagull is a very compact EV that sells at ± €11,000 in China /BYD

This puts the BYD Seagull slightly below the upcoming small electric cars from European manufacturers: Both the Citroen ë-C3 and the VW ID.2 are just over four meters long, and the Renault 5 Electric bows in at 3.9 m.

In China, the Seagull sells at around €10,500 to €12,000. Its competitors here in Europe range around double this price tag. Everybody is, of course, eager to know what the European Seagull will cost when it arrives in Europe.

Price war felt in financial results

BYD, China’s biggest manufacturer of EVs, also feels the pressure of the raging price war. Although the financial results for Q1 2024 were still in the green, progress has slowed considerably. Turnover rose by 4% to 124.9 billion yuan (just over €16 billion), the slowest growth since 2022 and 10.5 billion yuan less than analysts had forecasted.

The same goes for the net benefit. The latter grew by 10.6% to 4.57 billion yuan (± €590 million), but that’s the lowest growth rate in four years.

The reason for this regress in the results seems to be double. On the one hand, BYD has changed its strategy and is trying to sell more expensive and luxurious cars, and on the other hand, there is a long-running price war in the home market to counter the decreasing EV  sales and the growing competition.

As of February, BYD offered up to 20% rebate on certain models, trying to fight over 40 competitors in the Chinese market, of which half of them have 1% or more of the Chinese market, according to Bloomberg data. Nevertheless, the plans for 2024 are to sell 20% more cars than last year. A real challenge.

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