BYD’s move to enter Japan’s passenger vehicle market is good for Africa

BYD's move to enter Japan's passenger vehicle market is good for Africa

BYD has announced it’s going live sales of electric passenger cars in Japan from January 2023. Initially, three of BYD’s latest models will be offered in Japan, starting with the ATTO 3 in January. This will be followed by the Dolphin and Seal, which will go on sale in the middle and second half of 2023 respectively.

BYD Asia-Pacific Auto Sales Division General Manager Liu Xueliang unveiled BYD’s slogan to the market: “Hello e-life.” “Starting today, BYD, along with Japanese dealers and partners from all walks of life, will launch electric vehicle products suitable for people in Japan,” said Liu. “With the goal of ‘e-travel for everyone’ and the slogan ‘Hello, e-Life’, we are committed to achieving a low-carbon lifestyle in Japan.”

Wang Chuanfu, chairman and president of BYD, said: “Over the years, BYD has been deeply involved in the Japanese market and has built a good market and brand base through its pure electric buses, energy storage systems, all electric forklifts and other companies,” Wang said. “Today, with the support and expectation of consumers, BYD is officially entering the new energy passenger vehicle market in Japan. The longest journey starts with a single step and we cherish this business opportunity immensely. Full of respect and dedication, we are committed to providing Japanese consumers with leading-edge technologies, outstanding products and high-quality services, with the aim of providing an exceptional travel experience.”

Here is a summary of the specifications of the models:

  1. The BYD dolphin

70 kW and 180 Nm torque motor

Max speed of 150 km/h

BYD Blade Battery (LFP (LiFePO4) capacity 30.72 kWh)

Range of approximately 225 km (WLTP)

On-board charger: AC 7 kW

DC Fast Charging: 40 kW

The Dolphin also has a model with a larger 44.9 kWh battery and improved DC fast charging up to 60 kW.

  1. The BYD Yuan Plus (known as the ATTO 3 in international markets such as Japan, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand)

150 kW and 310 Nm torque motor

Max speed of 160 km/h

BYD Blade Battery with a capacity of 50.12 kWh (LFP)

Range of 320 km (WLTP)

The ATTO 3 also has a long range version with a 60.48 kWh battery.

  1. The highly anticipated BYD Seal Sedan (Standard Range Version)

150 kW and 310 Nm engine

Acceleration: from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds

Battery capacity 61.44 kWh

Range: from approximately 430 km (WLTP)

The BYD Seal also has a long range version (82.56 kWh battery):

230 kW and 360 Nm motor

Acceleration: from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds

As well as a Performance version with four-wheel drive

390 kW and 670 Nm engines

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds

Battery capacity 82.56 kWh

The Japanese market essentially determines the direction of the auto sector in Africa’s right-hand drive markets. This is because more than 90% of vehicles in these markets (excluding South Africa) are used vehicles imported from Japan. Most people can’t afford a $30,000 to $40,000 brand new vehicle for a variety of reasons. These include the fact that the majority of people in these emerging markets have lower incomes than people in developed countries, as well as the lack of affordable car financing. The majority of the car buying population buys 8 year old cars online from Japanese dealers or from local car dealers who are said to have imported them from Japan. These used cars can be older than 8 years depending on the import regulations of the country. The popular cars in this range are the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Mazda CX 5. These vehicles will retail for locally from about $8,000 to about $20,000 depending on age, condition and mileage, allowing more people to afford to buy. to buy a car.

Over the past decade, Japanese automakers have focused more on plug-less hybrids rather than battery-electric vehicles. Because the supply chain from Japan is well established, these plug-less hybrids are now also finding their way to these African markets en masse. Many people are looking for more fuel-efficient vehicles as high gasoline costs are starting to strain their budgets. The Honda Fit hybrid and the Toyota Aqua hybrid are now some of the models you can see all over the streets of cities like Harare. For avid and early EV users, the first-generation Nissan Leaf is also, in fact, the only right-hand drive vehicle that they have easy access to. The first generation Nissan Leaf battery pack does not have an active thermal management system. Therefore, this is not an ideal vehicle for these markets due to accelerated battery degradation issues in hot environments.

The focus of Japanese automakers on plug-less hybrids and slow sales of all-battery-powered vehicles in Japan mean there hasn’t been a good selection of used battery-electric vehicles for people in these African markets to buy. There is now a glimmer of hope, from 2021, sales of battery electric vehicles in Japan began to pick up. About 20,000 new EVs were sold in Japan by 2021, including 8,600 imported electric vehicles. The 8,600 imported electric vehicles were about three times higher than the previous year, showing significant growth. BYD’s entry into the Japanese market in January next year will give this market a boost. The BYD Dolphin is in a vehicle segment similar to the popular Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. The BYD Dolphin starts from around $15,000 in China. Pricing for the Japanese market is likely to be much higher than this.

This gives us some hope that in the next 4 to 5 years some of these cars will enter the used car market and make their way to right-hand drive markets in Africa. I drive a 2013 Nissan Leaf in Zimbabwe which I bought on these platforms that will deliver used Japanese vehicles in 2020. When I ordered the car it was 7 years old and it was then cheaper for me to buy it than to get it brand new for over $35,000 before duty. In a few years, these BYD dolphins could appear as used vehicles at prices potential buyers here can afford right now.

We need all available channels to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. Harnessing the existing ecosystem of the used vehicle market to bring EVs to these markets will be one of the key ways to achieve this.

Images Courtesy of BYD Japan


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