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BYD is the latest Chinese automotive manufacturer to bring its vehicles to Australia’s shores, with a number of its offerings already being seeing around Sydney and other main cities, with several models already available at the time of writing (April 2023) and more scheduled to follow. 

What makes BYD unique is that this company specializes in EVs.  Unlike other manufacturers of electric vehicles, BYD (which stands for Build Your Dreams) didn’t start as a company producing vehicles with internal combustion engines. Instead, BYD started out as a company that made rechargeable batteries for devices ranging from mobile phones to much bigger units that store the energy generated by solar power and wind power.  There’s a good chance that you’ve already used a device with a BYD battery.  Given the global push for EVs, it made sense for this company to branch out into the automotive sector and produce EVs, which included not just cars but also forklifts, e-bikes and buses. They played around with a few ICE vehicles, but this venture did not last long and they have mainly concentrated on electrical vehicles.

BYD was founded in 1995, with BYD Auto splitting into its own separate subsidiary in 2003.  In its earliest years, BYD mostly produced its vehicles for the Chinese market, but in 2009, it began exporting them to other parts of the world.  Sales of its vehicles, especially its plug-in hybrid vehicles and full EVs took off, and in 2022, BYD overtook Tesla to become the world’s best-selling EV marque.

One of BYD’s main tenets is innovation.  For example, it is very proud of the Blade battery used in its EVs.  This battery is designed to be a lot safer than the standard lithium ion batteries (LIBs) found in most other EVs, as it doesn’t have the same fire hazard risks.  It has passed the rigorous nail penetration test, where the battery is subjected to mechanical damage (i.e., having a nail driven into it) that would see a standard lithium ion battery catching fire.  This is because the Blade batteries are lithium iron phosphate batteries that are a lot stabler than other types of LIBs. These batteries also have excellent range and lifespan.

BYD is a Chinese company and sells extensively to the local market as well as to the overseas market, which is one of the main reasons why sales of BYD’s electrical vehicles have outsold Tesla – China is the country with the biggest population in the world, after all.  The other reason behind BYDs threat to Tesla’s dominance is its price. Tesla markets itself as a luxury brand.  However, like successful marques of last century such as Ford and Volkswagen, BYD is seeing success because it has targeted the everyday driver who doesn’t have the budget for a luxury car.

The Atto 3 was the first vehicle to be marketed at a wider scale in Australia, arriving in 2023. However, small numbers of other vehicles, such as the E6 van can be found around the country.