The Chinese giant BYD is preparing to launch its new Seal U in France, a large electric SUV that aims to compete with the Tesla Model Y. And if it tells you something, it’s quite normal, since it is in fact a European version of the Song Plus EV, already marketed in China.
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Still unknown a few years ago, BYD is now on the heels of Tesla and occupies 2nd place in the ranking of manufacturers selling the most electric cars in the world. A great progression for the Chinese manufacturer, which now wishes to invade the European market. So much so that he plans to build factories on the territory, but not only.
A new model not so new
The Asian firm also wants to expand its range, in order to titillate its American rival, including the Model Y which continues to be a hit on the Old Continent. But BYD has not said its last word.
After launching the Dolphin, whose test we were not very excited about, however, the manufacturer is returning to the charge with its new Seal U. A model that takes the name of the large BYD Seal sedan which is also preparing its arrival with us to hunt on the lands of the Tesla Model 3.
If the style of this electric SUV already tells you something, it’s completely normal. Indeed, this one is actually not that new, since it is actually a rebadged and European adapted version of the Song Plus EV, already marketed in China. It is therefore not surprising that the two share the same design, with a very clean front.
Drawn by the former designer of Audi, as specified by the journalists of Argus who have been able to approach it, this new Seal U is distinguished by its full grille as well as its undoubtedly artificial air intakes. If the SUV is obviously inspired by the sedan, the two do not quite share the same traits, even if the optics remain quite close. Of course, the silhouette has nothing to do, since the SUV is firmly planted on its large 19-inch wheels delivered as standard.
4.78 meters long and 1.89 meters wide and 1.68 meters high, this rival of the Tesla Model Y is a beautiful baby with quite generous dimensions. The profile is quite conventional, reminiscent of European productions, while the rear part has large rectangular lights, linked together by a wide band that also seems to be bright.
A clean driving position
If the electric SUV looks big enough, it will be content to accommodate only five passengers, contrary to what we might have thought. It will indeed turn to the Tang if you want to enjoy a more spacious vehicle with up to seven seats. The wheelbase remains generous all the same, displayed at 2.77 meters, which should make it possible to offer a good habitability for the occupants of the rear seats.
The trunk volume is announced at 570 liters, which is still very much lower than the 854 liters of the Tesla Model Y. It is still better than the Volkswagen ID.4 with which it should also compete, and its 543 liters when the bench seat is in place. Overall, the presentation remains unsurprisingly quite conventional, of course approaching the Seal.
We find a large 15.6-inch touchscreen, always swiveling like on the other models of the range, which we had been able to discover during the Mondial de Paris. For now, the manufacturer does not give much information and does not specify whether it is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto or not. This is associated with a digital handset with a sleek design, the size of which has not been revealed.
The journalists ofClean Automotive also explain that the most high-end finishes will be equipped with an additional head-up display. If the manufacturer announces the presence of many driving aids, it does not go into details for the moment.
Based on the Tang platform, also marketed in Europe, the new BYD Seal U is available in a single version at launch, with an output of 160 kW (217 horsepower) and 330 Nm of torque. Figures slightly higher than what is offered on the Chinese market at the moment. If the electric SUV will first be launched with two-wheel drive, a version with all-wheel drive would also be in the cards.
Customers will be able to choose from two battery sizes, namely 71.8 or 87 kWh, a capacity identical to the Nissan Ariya. Thus, the Seal U will be able to travel up to 500 kilometers on a single charge, according to the WLTP cycle. The 0 to 100 km/h is achieved in 9.6 seconds and the maximum speed is limited to 175 km/h.
Charging takes place at a maximum power of 140 kW in direct current, while 30 minutes are necessary to go from 30 to 80%. We also know that the electric SUV is equipped with bidirectional V2L charging, allowing you to charge small objects and household appliances. This feature comes standard, as does the heat pump, as on the Kia EV6.
For now, the manufacturer does not yet want to say too much about its electric SUV, which will take its first steps in front of the public during the next Munich fair. For example, it is not known whether it will be equipped with level 2 or 3 autonomous driving.
What price and release date?
Unveiled at the start of the school year, the new BYD Seal U should be marketed from November in France. If the prices have not yet been announced, it will probably be necessary to expect to pay around 50,000 euro. The manufacturer plans to make an effort to offer its SUV under 47,000 euros, so that it benefits from the ecological bonus of 5,000 euros.
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