Review: BYD Seal
In fact, BYD has been making cars since 2005 and has just launched its third battery-powered (BEV) model in 12 months into the UK.
The rather beautiful sleek-looking Seal sports saloon which is on sale now, follows the Dolphin which came hot on the heels of the ATTO3.
The company started out in 1995 making rechargeable batteries - and it still does. It is estimated that a large number of iPads and mobile phones worldwide contain at least one or two BYD components.It’s an undoubted success story.
This year BYD celebrated selling its five-millionth new electric vehicle (NEV), making it the world’s number one NEV brand and the fourth largest global car brand in terms of sales.
BYD constructs its electric cars quite differently to other manufacturers.The cobalt-free battery is a flat rectangle (a blade battery) and is integrated into the body of the car to add stiffness and thus making the car much more able to withstand impact.
This blade battery has a long life with more than 5,000 charge and discharge cycles and, in the Seal, a range of 323 or 354 miles depending on which model you opt for.
DC charging from 30-80 per cent is an impressive 26 minutes.
The Seal comes in two guises: rear wheel drive Design (£45,695) and all-wheel drive Excellence (£48,695).
Design has a range of 354 miles and the Excellence we tested at the UK launch has a 323-mile range. It will do the 0-62mph dash in a blistering 3.8 seconds - referenced by the discreet 3.8S badge on its tailgate.
Our 90-minute test route around the hilly Yorkshire dales returned around 3.5 miles per kWh. With the typical UK price of electricity at 25p per kwh that represents an exceptionally cheap way to travel.
The technology on board the Seal is such that only the basics can be mastered on a short introductory drive.
Seal has been awarded a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP and the package of advanced driver assistance equipment is impressive. These range from forward collision warning to a 360-degree panoramic camera and everything in between.
A particularly nice touch is BYD’s trademark rotatable 15.65cm multimedia touchpad which dominates the premium cabin. The majority of the vehicle’s functions are controlled by way of this and it is intuitive to use and quick to respond.
Both Seal models have oversized panoramic glass roofs and the cabin is light and airy.
It seats five comfortably and the driver has plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment. Excellence has lumbar support as an addition and all-round headroom is good.
Automatic dual-zone air conditioning is standard, there are two wireless charging docks on top of the centre console.
Storage is plentiful; 402-litres in the boot and, in the Design model, an extra 53-litre space under the bonnet.
UK motorists not have yet heard too much about BYD but that is sure to change some time very soon.
BYD Seal Excellence
Motor: 523bhp electric
Transmission: integrated automatic with AWD
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
CO 2 emissions: zero
Range: 323 miles