It’s been a long road for the Daimler-BYD lovechild known as the Denza EV, but finally production of the “built in China, for China” electric car has begun. Four years after the first seeds of this partnership were planted, its electric flower is ready to bloom. But is the Chinese market ready to fertilize it and make it their own?
With a 47.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Denza has range rating of 157 miles per charge on the China cycle, which is right about where it should be. Top speed is limited to 93 MPH, though it will take awhile to get there; 0 to 100 KPH, or 62 MPH, takes a yawn-inducing 14 seconds. Speed is not the Denza’s strong point, I think it’s safe to say.
Fast it may not be, but fast-charging? That’s a different story entirely. From a 22 kW Level 2 wall charger, the Denza can recharge in only three hours. Daimler and BYD have also joined forces with ABB to build a country-spanning fast-charging network, one they claim will be the largest in the world. The Denza also earned a 5-star safety rating in the China NCAP test, and while it’s priced at about $60,100, it qualifies for a chunky $19,500 in central and local government incentives, as well as the 10% tax exemption.
The Denza is a pretty big deal, both for BYD’s future and Daimler’s ambitions in China. The two companies first began their joint venture in 2010, and it’s the first car Daimler has engineered from the bottom up outside of Germany; if it flops, what are the chances Daimler takes similar risks again? BYD is betting customers will want electric cars in China thanks to lots of government incentives, but if it flops, the Chinese automaker could be in deep trouble without much depth in their lineup outside of their hybrid and electric cars.
The Denza will be sold through BYD dealerships, and it could end up being China’s version of the Tesla Model S. The alternative? Not pretty.