Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably been hearing about a Chinese automaker called BYD. Recently, Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley called out the BYD Seagull during a tech conference, essentially calling that compact electric SUV the reason Ford EVs need to go small. It probably also has a lot to do with why Ford has put a hold on another electric pickup.

So, what is this vehicle, and why is it important? Let’s dig in.

Build Your Dreams

First we should probably start with BYD itself. BYD is an “backronym” for Build Your Dreams, since the BYD originally came from the company’s Chinese name Biyadi. It was a first a tech company, founded in 1995 and started building cars in 2003. It stopped producing gas-only vehicles in 2022 and is currently the largest electric vehicle manufacturer globally.

Oh, and its headquarters is located in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

Though BYD has stated it doesn’t have plans to bring the brand to the U.S., it is currently selling vehicles in Mexico and South America. And it’s looking at building a plant in Mexico for the Mexican market. Not for exporting to the U.S, so says BYD Americas CEO Stella Li.

What is the BYD Seagull

The BYD Seagull was introduced at Auto Shanghai 2023 – exactly a year ago. It is a compact electric car that has a presale price ranging from $10,895 to $13,245, and it gets between 190 and 252 miles of range.

Though we don’t get this vehicle in the U.S., a company called Caresoft imported the vehicle to do some benchmarking and gave John McElroy, of Autoline, an opportunity to check it out. The ensuing video showcases a car that certainly cuts some features (like a rear wiper) to reduce expenses, but it doesn’t come off as being “cheap.”

From trim pieces to tech, even the interior of the BYD Seagull is on par with a gas-powered economy-class compact SUV, like the Nissan Kicks, that costs about $10K more.

And that is what poses an existential threat to U.S. EVs.

The bottom line

Even though BYD says it doesn’t plan to bring vehicles to the U.S., we’re skeptical. These vehicles would need some modifications to meet U.S. safety regulations, which would add cost. But even if the price of the BYD Seagull doubled, it would still be less than current EVs produced for the American market. For comparison, the Nissan Leaf starts at $29,280.

If automotive veteran John McElroy is impressed, this inexpensive BYD electric vehicle is a very BFD. And, yeah, we should care. Seriously, watch the Autoline video, and tell us if you’re impressed by this $11k vehicle. We were.

If China can do a vehicle like this so inexpensively, why can’t we? And if we can’t, why wouldn’t someone else swoop in and take a bite of that market?

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