Tesla’s biggest rival could launch electric bakkie and hybrid in South Africa

Chinese automotive giant BYD could launch its first electrified bakkie for the global market and an affordable hybrid plug-in sedan to compete with the Toyota Corolla in South Africa.

MyBroadband has spotted two trademark applications filed by BYD Company Limited in January 2024 for the names under which these vehicles are expected to be sold on the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) database.

The first application is for “BYD Shark”,which is the name several Brazilian publications have reported will be used for the company’s upcoming electric and hybrid bakkie in markets outside China.

CnEVPost recently obtained photos of the upcoming vehicle being tested in a blue and orange camouflage wrap.

BYD is believed to be targeting the Shark at markets where bakkies are popular, such as Australia, where the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, and Isuzu D-Max are the top 3 best-selling models.

Although Australia has a larger car market than South Africa, BYD is likely keenly aware of local car buyers’ unquenchable thirst for utility-type vehicles.

Given that the top 2 best-selling cars in South Africa are the Hilux and Ranger, BYD could quickly amass a big following if the car receives good reviews and is priced competitively.

According to Drive.com, BYD plans to bring the hybrid model to market later in 2024, so more details about its performance, features, and pricing will likely be revealed in the coming months.

In Australia, it is expected to start at less than A$100,000, or about R1.23 million at the time of publication. The fully-electric version is only expected to debut in 2025. Pricing is not yet known.

South African availability, launch dates, and pricing remain to be confirmed.

BYD electric bakkie in camouflage wrap. Credit: CnEVPost
BYD electric bakkie in camouflage wrap from the side. Credit: CnEVPost
BYD electric bakkie in camouflage wrap from the rear. Credit: CnEVPost

The second trademark application lodged by BYD in South Africa is for the name “BYD King”, which refers to the company’s plug-in hybrid sedan known as the BYD Qin Plus DM-i in China.

This model is poised to compete with the likes of the Toyota Corolla hybrid and has been described as a “youthful” version of the BYD Qin Plus.

It has made headlines for its affordable starting price of 79,800 yuan, about R205,000 at the time of publication.

The BYD King features a 1.5-litre engine that can be coupled with either an 8.32kWh or 18.3kWh high-voltage battery, providing up to 120km of all-electric range.

When the battery is charged, the hybrid can achieve an average consumption of 21.7 kilometres on a litre, or roughly 4.6ℓ/100km.

The BYD King is expected to launch in Brazil in June 2024, but this remains to be confirmed.

BYD King from the front
BYD King from the rear

BYD is China’s leading electric vehicle (EV) maker and one of the world’s biggest manufacturers overall.

The company is highly reputed for its advanced battery technology, which is also used by its main rival — Tesla.

While it is yet to beat Tesla in full-year sales, BYD surpassed the Elon Musk-owned company’s fully-electric model deliveries in the last quarter of 2023.

In South Africa, it currently only offers its BYD Atto 3 compact SUV in limited numbers, with pricing starting from R768,000.

However, it plans to expand its range with the BYD Dolphin hatchback. Indicative pricing from dealership sources put the starting price tag at around R550,000.

BYD has also filed for the trademark on Dolphin Mini, known in China as the Seagull, in South Africa.

This small hatchback model sells from 69,800 yuan (R179,600) in China and could become South Africa’s cheapest model, even if import taxes double its local price tag.

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Tesla’s biggest rival could launch electric bakkie and hybrid in South Africa