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China’s BYD fires up NEV offerings to compete with Tesla and Jeep

BYD unveiled three new cars for its Fang Cheng Bao brand on April 16, 2024, in Shenzhen. This vehicle, the Super 3 SUV, comes with a drone port on its roof.

CNBC | Evelyn Cheng

SHENZHEN – Chinese electric car company BYD is rapidly expanding its lineup to include vehicles that compete with traditional automakers in the mass market, Tesla on the premium end and Jeep in the off-road segment.

BYD on Tuesday unveiled three new cars for its Fang Cheng Bao brand: an off-road “Leopard 8” SUV, a “Super 3” SUV geared toward city driving and a “Super 9” sports car.

The company did not announce prices. Instead, BYD billed the vehicles mostly as concept cars and hinted further details would be released at the auto show in Beijing next week. It was not immediately clear to what extent the new cars would be fully electric.

BYD launched its Fang Cheng Bao brand last summer with a focus on “personalized needs of consumers,” particularly in off-road vehicles and sports cars. The brand’s first vehicle, a hybrid-powered off-road SUV called “Leopard 5,” launched in November with a starting price of about 290,000 yuan ($40,845).

Nearly 20,000 Leopard 5 cars have since been delivered, the company claimed Tuesday.

The rapid rise of Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD

BYD also sells an off-road SUV and sports car under its luxury brand Yangwang, which launched early last year to target consumers willing to spend about 1 million yuan or more per car.

Most of BYD’s cars are in the mass market segment and rank among the best-selling new energy vehicles in China. The category includes battery-only and hybrid-powered cars.

“In the past 20 years, our continuous technological innovation and disruption have set multiple benchmarks for the industry,” Lian Yubo, chief scientist at BYD, said in Mandarin during Tuesday’s launch event, according to a CNBC translation.

The blade battery defines the benchmark for safety. DM-i set the benchmark for energy consumption, DiSus set the benchmark for total vehicle control,” Lian said, referring to various technological systems BYD has released in the last few years.

For off-road vehicles, Lian touted BYD technology that allows the cars to run on hybrid power.

BYD’s car launches come amid fierce competition in China’s new energy vehicle market. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi last month released its first electric car, aimed directly at Tesla’s Model 3.

Chinese automakers including BYD also have their sights on the global market. This month, BYD announced plans to launch an electric pickup truck overseas this year.

The Leopard 8 is one of the three cars BYD’s Fang Cheng Bao brand unveiled in Shenzhen on April 16, 2024.

CNBC | Evelyn Cheng

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