BYD Targets Tesla With Premium ‘Sea Lion’ EV

zeekr 007

World’s biggest EV maker BYD launches direct competition to Tesla with Sea Lion 07 SUV, along with new launches from Li Auto, Zeekr, Xpeng

China’s BYD, the world’s biggest electric carmaker, has launched a new premium brand called Sea Lion along with the Sea Lion 07 sport-utility vehicle that competes directly with Tesla vehicles such as the Model Y.

BYD surpassed Tesla as the biggest EV maker last year, but most of its cars are low-cost models aimed at lower- and middle-income buyers in mainland China.

The company has also begun competing in Europe with vehicles including the entry-level Dolphin, launched in the UK this year with a price tag of £25,490.

In China BYD offers EVs such as the small Seagull hatchback, which uses a cheaper-to-produce sodium-ion battery and began selling domestically this year with a starting price of 73,800 yuan (£8,200).

byd sea lion
BYD’s Sea Lion 07. Image credit: BYD

Sea Lion 07 SUV

Most of BYD’s EVs are priced in a similar range, from 100,000 yuan to 150,000 yuan.

The Sea Lion brand, by contrast, targets the same higher-end market segment as Tesla.

The Sea Lion 07, a full-electric SUV introduced at the Guangzhou Auto Show that began on Friday, is to be priced between 200,000 yuan (£22,400) and 260,000 yuan, comparable to Tesla’s Model Y, which starts at 266,400 yuan.

Tesla manufactures the Model Y at its factory in Shanghai, which began operations in late 2020 and is the firm’s single biggest plant worldwide.

Industry analysts noted that while BYD and Tesla have not competed head-on until now, BYD has a significant production cost advantage over Tesla.

zeekr 007
The Zeekr 007. Image credit: Zeekr

Cost advantage

A report from investment bank UBS found the cost of building a BYD Seal EV is 15 percent lower than the comparable Tesla Model 3.

BYD in April introduced a luxury vehicle called the U8 that is priced at 1.1 million yuan and invited comparisons to a Range Rover.

At the Guangzhou show Li Auto, another potential Tesla rival, introduced its first pure-electric model, the seven-seat MEGA MPV, which secured 10,000 pre-orders within two hours of its release.

Geely launched the Zeekr 007 electric sedan from its premium Zeekr brand, while Xpeng introduced its first pure electric multi-purpose vehicle, the X9 MPV.

Xpeng recently signed a partnership to develop two VW-branded EVs for the German automaker.

Xpeng's X9 MPV. Image credit: Xpeng
Xpeng’s X9 MPV. Image credit: Xpeng