China’s BYD Brings Second EV to Japan, the Dolphin

Tokyo: China BYD (002594. SZ) said it will add a second model to its Japanese EV lineup next year, as the electric car maker seeks to secure a foothold in a market that has given rise to some of the world’s best-selling auto brands. The company, which has leaped into second place in global EV sales behind Tesla, will launch its midsize sport utility vehicle Atto 3, the hatchback compact Dolphin, and the sedan Seal from January in Japan sequentially.

BYD is a rare foreign carmaker to launch vehicles in Japan, where sales of gasoline-electric hybrids and pure battery electric cars are relatively low compared with other developed countries. The expansion in Japan is part of a plan to expand its presence worldwide, focusing on the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Last year, exports from BYD quadrupled to 55,916 sedans, SUVs, and hatchbacks, most of them going to India, Thailand, and Brazil, as the Chinese automaker sought to build up its presence in developing markets. It also plans to open a plant in Mexico to boost production for its high-end electric sedan, the Han EV.

The Dolphin, which went on sale in China as the Yuan Plus in February 2022, is powered by the latest iteration of BYD lithium-ion batteries — known as Blade Batteries — that use liquid-cooled technology to improve efficiency and performance. It has a cruising range of up to 310 miles and costs less than one-quarter of a Tesla.

BYD’s new EVs will be sold by a network of dealers, in contrast to its more traditional approach in China, where it sells its vehicles directly through its stores. The dealer model is considered more familiar to Japanese drivers and will help BYD establish itself in a market that was the first in the world to legalize the sale of EVs in 2018.

Osamu Furukawa, who runs a company converting classic gasoline-powered cars into electric ones, said he bought an ATTO 3 on sale on Jan. 31 and has already driven it to Osaka, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) away. He cited its user-friendly features and affordable price.

Several other Chinese EV makers seek to expand their footprint in Europe and North America, including NIO, Geely Holding Group Cos Zeekr, and Ora. Some compete on price, while others offer premium models aimed at Western and Japanese premium automakers. Chinas Zeekr recently recruited a 24-year Lexus veteran to spearhead its expansion into Europe, and the firm says it will start selling its 001 sedan and Zeekr X SUV in Sweden and the Netherlands from the fourth quarter of this year.

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