Earlier this year, the Chinese electric car invasion quietly began with a pilot program in Chicago, where Uber drivers were offered a chance to test out the BYD E6. The 60 kWh battery pack provides up to 186 miles/300 km of driving range per charge, but for 2016 the BYD E6 will get a bigger battery that will let it go up to 250 miles/400 km between charge, reports Electric Vehicle News. That’s nearly as far as the Tesla Model S, but for a lot less money.
The 2016 BYD E6 will see its 60 kWh battery boosted to 82 kWh, increasing the curb weight by about 100 kgs/220 lbs, but adding almost 70 additional miles of driving range per charge. The automaker claims an energy density of 150 wH/kg, yet the $48,350 price tag remains unchanged. That’s a pretty big move for the small Chinese automaker, which received a major cash infusion from hedge fund legend Warren Buffett and has recently had some success with fleet sales of the E6, which debuted back in 2010. BYD also has its electric bus division, which has won some hefty contracts with big cities.
But are American consumers willing to take a chance with a Chinese electric car? The market for electric vehicles remains quite small, and much larger, deeper-pocketed automakers like GM and Nissan have come up short of their own ambitious electrification goals. With BYD going all-in with electric and hybrid cars, its fate may rest of whether or not American consumers will get on board with a Chinese car, though it’s already building a battery factory that may rival Elon Musk’s Gigafactory. In other words, BYD seems pretty confident.
At over $48,000, even with the Federal tax rebate, buyers are going to have certain quality expectations. Can BYD meet them?