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BYD Seal begins pre-orders in China, beginning underneath $32K, as a Tesla Mannequin 3 competitor


Chinese automaker BYD Auto has officially begun taking pre-orders for its long-teased Seal sedan. The new EV model, anticipated by many to become a competitor to the Tesla Model 3, arrives in four different trim models and will be the first from BYD to include its new cell-to-body (CTB) technology.

BYD Auto is a subsidiary of BYD Co. Ltd. and stands for “Build Your Dreams.” The automotive division will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year as one of the largest auto manufacturers in China. In 2021 alone, BYD produced over 320,000 BEVs, second in the country to only SAIC.

BYD Auto has been delivering electrified vehicles since 2008 when a plug-in hybrid version of its F3 sedan debuted. Since then, BYD has found plenty of success in PHEVs as well as fully-electric vehicles for passengers as well as fleets including trucks and buses.

To support its next generation of EVs, BYD Auto unveiled its e-Platform 3.0 in 2021 – a modular, compact platform to power both BEVs and PHEVs in its Ocean Series of new vehicles. So far, the Dolphin subcompact is the only BEV to be delivered in this series, but the Seal is next to follow.

As part of a presentation out of China from BYD Auto executives, we now know the trim variations and pricing for the upcoming Seal sedan as pre-orders officially begin overseas.

Three out of four BYD Seal trims beat lowest Tesla Model 3 price

While the public may have already had multiple glimpses of the Seal EV prior to today, BYD Auto officially pulled the sheet of many of the specs consumers were awaiting, including pricing. During a presentation shared on the company’s Weibo page, BYD shared that the Seal will come in four available trim levels of varying specs:

BYD Seal Trim Standard
Range (Elite)
Standard Range
(Premium)
Long Range Performance
Powertrain RWD RWD RWD AWD
Range (CLTC) 550 km
(342 mi)
550 km
(342 mi)
700 km
(435 mi)
650 km
(404 mi)
Price RMB 212,800
($31,998)
RMB 225,800
($33,953)
RMB 262,800 ($39,516) RMB 289,800 ($43,576)

Based on the pricing and specs above as well as the tech below, many have anticipated the Seal to arrive as a direct competitor to the Model 3. That very well could be the case. In addition to being longer, wider, and having a larger wheelbase than the Model 3 (the Tesla is still taller), the BYD Seal is comparable in range. For example, the Standard RWD Model 3 is rated at 556 km (346 mi) CLTC range, while the Dual Motor Performance trim is 675 km (419 mi).

Tesla’s cheapest EV wins in some sense, but not when you take into account the vast difference in price compared to the Seal. For example, the Tesla Model 3 sedan is currently available in two trims in China – Standard and Performance, priced at RMB 279,900 ($42,088) and RMB 367,900 ($55,320) respectively.

In addition to being one of the first BYD EVs to arrive on its e-Platform 3.0, the Seal will be the first to feature the automaker’s cell-to-body (CTB) solution, which allows the battery to be integrated throughout the entire vehicle body – a popular new EV design process.

The CTB sandwich structure / Source: Weibo/ BYD Auto

According to BYD, the CTB design delivers a 66% increase in volume utilization of the battery pack, 50% increase in frontal crash structural safety, and a 100% increase in body torsional stiffness over conventional frame designs.

The battery pack itself uses tightly fit BYD blade cells (the same Tesla purchased) which are sandwiched between the top and bottom panels to create a honeycomb-like structure, adding greater strength during a collision. According to BYD, it’s possible for the CTB structure “to be unbreakable during an accidental crash.”

During BYD’s presentation, there was no mention of the battery capacities within the Seal models. However, CnEVPost pointed out that the automaker previously announced the standard range version of the Seal houses a 61.44 kWh battery pack, and the long-range and AWD performance versions use an 82.56 kWh pack.

BYD has not yet shared when Seal deliveries will begin in China, but with the opening of pre-orders, it’s fair to expect to see customer EVs arrive in the next coming months.

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