Is this electric people mover the answer for Kiwi families?

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Words: Matthew Hansen
21 Jul 2021

Ever since it was announced in February, things have been mostly quiet regarding the arrival of Chinese giant BYD.

The EV juggernaut firm is set to soon launch on both sides of the ditch, with a heavy focus on bringing in cut-price electric vehicles.

Earlier talks suggested that local pre-sales for its line-up would commence around July, with arrival slated for March 2022. But, no further announcements have been made on this side of the Tasman since, with the expected pre-sale dates lapsing.

It’s a little different for our friends in Australia, though. There, BYD has already confirmed that its all-new E6 people mover is going to be offered. Not only that, but it will become Australia’s cheapest electric car, with a sticker price of AU$39,990 — or around $42,300.

It’s a fairly compelling package. At the center is an electric motor hooked to the front axle, paired to a 70kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Range is rated at over 500km per charge, putting the E6 in the same range ballpark as the likes of the 78kWh Hyundai Kona.

Australian reports are conflicting; some indicating that the model’s motor produces 70kW of power, and others quoting 100kW of power. Either way, given that the model is fairly large — 4695mm long, 1810mm wide — don’t expect it to be much of a performance monster.

The battery used is BYD’s new ‘Blade’ unit; helping reduce the outright weight of the E6 by a staggering 490kg relative to the outgoing model. It also features no heavy metals, and a non-toxic form of electrolyte.

Pictures of the E6’s cabin show it to be a fairly plush-looking place to sit. Leather upholstery, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, and a rotary dial for gear selector all feature. The boot is handily sized, too, at 580 litres (presumably with third-row seating folded flat).

What’s particularly notable about the E6 is that it features seven seats; filling a hole in the market for an affordable electric seven-seater. The lack of affordable plug-in options for those wanting seven seats has been a regular talking point in New Zealand, in the wake of the Clean Car Discount debate.

While the E6 hasn’t yet been announced for New Zealand, it’s most likely a given. Australian reports have indicated that BYD is preparing to announce its full Aussie model line-up in the coming weeks, meaning New Zealand’s announcement is probably not far behind.

On top of the E6, it’s tipped that Oceania will also get BYD’s T3 electric van, the rather attractive Han sedan, and the EA1. The latter is a subcompact hatchback, and — presuming it’s confirmed for our market — is likely to be by far the cheapest EV offered in Australia or New Zealand.

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