14 cars Tesla’s biggest rival could launch in South Africa — including a 2,000km hybrid and “tank-turning” off-roader

BYD could be bringing a range of fully-electric vehicles (BEVs) and hybrid cars (HEVs) to South Africa in the coming years, including a plug-in hybrid with over 2,000km range on a single charge and tank of petrol.

The Chinese automotive giant — widely regarded as Tesla’s biggest rival — has already launched its fully electric Atto 3 compact SUV and Dolphin hatchback in South Africa.

The company is China’s top-selling EV manufacturer and even surpassed Tesla in sales in the fourth quarter of 2023.

BYD is aggressively expanding into markets outside its home country.

In the first quarter of 2024, it exported over 100,000 fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars, a 152% increase year over year.

South Africa’s trade department has also had discussions with the company about a local manufacturing plant.

BYD is well known for its highly competitive pricing.

Both its battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on sale in South Africa are among the five cheapest options, while the Dolphin is the most affordable overall.

MyBroadband searched the Companies and Intellectual Properties database and found that BYD Company Limited had registered or applied for trademarks on dozens of names carried by its cars that have not yet been launched in South Africa.

Since 2022, it has filed for trademarks on at least 14 known models, excluding the already-launched Atto 3 and Dolphin.

Among the noteworthy names is BYD Seal, a sedan offered with a fully electric or plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The upcoming Seal 06 model is set to be the first featuring BYD’s latest Dual Mode (DM) hybrid powertrain, which has a claimed range of over 2,000km on a single tank of fuel and battery charge.

Under the New European Driving Cycle, which is actually no longer used in Europe but preferred in China, it will offer fuel consumption of 3.0 litres per 100 kilometres.

BYD Seal 06 plug-in hybrid

Other interesting cars with pending trademark applications are four models in the premium Yangwang line-up, described as the Lexus to  Toyota.

These include the flagship Defender-like Yangwang U8 PHEV SUV with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor that combines for a monstrous 880kW power.

Despite tipping the scales at over four tonnes, it can accelerate from a standstill to 100km/h in about 3.6 seconds.

This model has made waves on the Internet for being able to float on water for 30 minutes, just in case the driver underestimated the depth of water crossing. It can use its sealed electric motors to propel the car back to dry land.

Aside from a myriad of impressive internal features, the U8 can also do a 360-degree “tank turn” in one spot.

Another impressive Yangwang model on the list — the U9 — is an electric hypercar with 956kW power output and 1,680Nm torque.

It boasts lightning-quick acceleration from 0km/h to 100km/h in 2.36 seconds and a top speed of 309km/h.

Perhaps its most impressive feature, however, is a price tag of 1.68 million yuan, working out to about R4.34 million at the time of writing.

While that is no small change, it significantly undercuts hypercars with similar performance from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini.

BYD Yangwang U9

There were also several other names for which BYD filed trademark applications that news reports have speculated could be used for new models in international markets, including Carpe, Farli, and Halo.

Below are 13 of the BYD models for which the company has registered or applied for trademarks in South Africa, aside from the already-launched Atto 3 and Dolphin.

At the time of publication, no photos or design concepts of the 14th model, the Yangwang U6, were available.

In cases where the international model’s name is different, the original Chinese name is shown in brackets.


Dolphin Mini BEV hatchback (Seagull)


Han BEV and PHEV sedan


King PHEV sedan (Qin)


King L PHEV sedan (Qin L)


Sealion BEV SUV (Sea Lion)


Seal BEV and PHEV sedan


Shark bakkie PHEV


Song compact SUV BEV and PHEV


Tang 7-seater EV and PHEV SUV


Unspecified Formula Bao PHEV SUV (Fangchengbao)


Yangwang U7 luxury sedan BEV and PHEV


Yangwang U8 PHEV luxury SUV


Yangwang U9 BEV hypercar

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14 cars Tesla’s biggest rival could launch in South Africa — including a 2,000km hybrid and “tank-turning” off-roader