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BYD launches $33K Seal EV to challenge Toyota in its own backyard

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China’s leading automaker, BYD, is taking on Toyota in its home market. As it expands into Toyota’s territory, BYD launched the Seal EV in Japan on Tuesday, its third electric car in the country.

BYD Seal EV to rival Toyota in Japan

BYD officially launched its first EV in Japan in January 2023, the top-selling Atto 3 electric SUV. The Atto 3 starts at just under $30,000 (¥4.4 million).

In September, BYD unveiled its low-cost Dolphin, another one of its top-selling electric cars globally. Starting at around $24,500 (¥3.63 million), the Dolphin EV competes with Toyota’s Prius and Nissan’s LEAF.

Another one of BYD’s best-selling EVs will join its lineup as it challenges Toyota in its home market.

BYD unveiled the Seal EV in Japan on Tuesday. The Seal is BYD’s answer to the Tesla Model 3 and is expected to give Toyota a run for its money.

On BYD’s Japan website, the Seal EV is listed at ¥5.28 million, or around $33,100. That’s for the base RWD model with up to 398 miles (640 km) range. In comparison, the Seal starts at around $25,800 (179,800 yuan) in China.

BYD-Seal-Toyota
BYD SEAL (Source: BYD)

The AWD model starts at ¥6.05 million, or roughly $37,900. And that’s with up to 357 miles (575 km) range. Both versions are powered by an 82.56 kWh battery pack.

BYD is offering a special introductory price campaign for the first 1,000 buyers. The RWD Seal’s MSRP (including consumption tax) is ¥4.95 million ($3,100), while the AWD is listed at ¥5.72 million, with discounts.

BYD-Seal-Toyota
BYD Atto 3 (left) and Dolphin (right) EVs in Japan (Source: BYD)

Since opening its first dealership in February 2023, BYD has sold around 2,500 EVs in Japan. Despite accounting for 20% of Japan’s EV imports in January, BYD’s momentum has slowed in the country.

At the Seal launch, BYD’s Japan president, Atsuki Tofukuji, said slower sales were due to lower government EV subsidies.

BYD-Seal-Toyota
BYD Seal EVs in Japan (Source: BYD)

Despite sales slowing, BYD plans to launch at least one car per year in Japan, a market dominated by domestic automakers like Toyota.

The news comes as BYD plans to launch the Seal in Hyundai and Kia’s home market of South Korea.

Electrek’s Take

Japanese automakers like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda account for a significant majority of sales in their home market.

Toyota alone controls over a third of car sales in Japan. And the small percentage of imports are mainly luxury brands like Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

However, BYD believes its low-cost EVs can challenge Toyota and other Japanese automakers. By 2025, BYD plans to open 100 dealerships and showrooms nationwide.

Can BYD make its mark in Japan after already becoming a leader in overseas markets like Brazil, Thailand, and Israel? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Source: Reuters, BYD Japan

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