Home » BYD Is Now Selling This Competitive EV For Under $10,000

BYD Is Now Selling This Competitive EV For Under $10,000

Byd Seagull Copy
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Last year I wrote that the BYD Seagull was the most important car that debuted last year, and certainly the most important one named after an Anton Chekov play. That was back when this thing cost about $14,000 in China. Due to an ongoing price war in China, BYD has managed to drop that price below $10,000. How?

A price war is about the only war that I have any stomach for at the moment, but eventually, a price war turns into a trade war, and the EU is considering proactive/retroactive tariffs as it investigates if Chinese cars are unfairly subsidized (hint: they are, as are European cars). Nissan dealers appear to be in their own protracted battle against Nissan and its addiction to fleet sales.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

And, finally, we’ll talk about Our Next Energy.

This Thing Costs $9,700 If You Can Believe It

Byd Seagull Side Profile

Sure, Chinese cars have been subsidized by the government. Yes, they have benefited from a huge national effort to be good at batteries. Yes, Chinese automakers probably learned a lot from joint ventures with U.S. companies. Yes, Chinese automakers benefit from laxer environmental regulations and fewer moral compunctions when it comes to either child labor in the Congo or slave labor.

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None of that is a guarantee that you can build a good car. Decades of government-backed car companies utilizing questionably motivated labor in the Soviet Union never managed to produce a truly great car.

Chinese automaker BYD’s Seagull (Dolphin Mini elsewhere) is an attractive city car with a reasonable range of about 130-180 miles (depending on the measure you’re using). At $14,000 it was a steal. At $9,700 I don’t even have words for it. This car will cost about $21,000 in Mexico and even that seems like a decent deal for a roughly Honda Fit-sized subcompact EV city car.

The how of this is important and has a lot to do with BYD’s huge lead and huge scale. The why is even more important, and I’ll look to this Reuters report on China’s wild price war for more information:

BYD has become a relentless discounter in the price war Tesla began in the world’s largest auto market last year. That aggressive stance has helped it unseat its U.S. rival as the world’s biggest seller of electric vehicles even if most of BYD’s cars are sold in China.

I enjoy the mention there that, essentially, Tesla started this price war and seems to be losing it. You come for the king, you best not miss, as Joey Tribbiani once famously stated.

The next question is, of course, what happens to margins if you discount this much? Tesla has already struggled with lower-than-usual margins in its price war. Reuters addresses that as well:

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Gross profit margins for the Warren Buffett-backed automaker have to date held up reasonably well. It logged a 22% margin in the third quarter, up from 18.7% in the second quarter, according to Reuters calculations.

That’s not bad!

EU Is Thinking About Retroactive Tariffs Against Chinese EVs

Byd Atto 3
Photo credit: BYD

I’ve already written at length about the general hypocrisy of the EU’s investigation into whether or not Chinese cars are unfairly subsidized. Sometimes it’s ok to be a hypocrite, however, and I don’t necessarily blame European Union officials for being worried about the sudden influx of cheap Chinese electric cars.

But, because the EU is a big European bureaucracy, it has to do the whole let’s-investigate-it thing. That’s nice and all, but the volume of Chinese car imports has risen 11% since October. There’s not enough time to wait.

In order to address this timing issue, the EU is saying it’s going to start keeping track of every import into the company so that, if the investigation finds out something fishy is going on, it can retroactively charge duties on those vehicles that are already here and, presumably, already sold to consumers.

From The South China Morning Post:

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The document says that if the EU waited to impose duties, its own manufacturers would “suffer from diminishing sales and reduced production levels if imports continue at the current increased levels”.

It can also be assumed that the commission is satisfied it has enough evidence to put duties on EVs made in China, but wants to expedite the process.

The note, which was published in the EU’s official journal on Wednesday, said that regarding subsidies, “the commission has at its disposal sufficient evidence tending to show that imports of the product concerned from the PRC [China] are being subsidised”.

I’m shocked, shocked that there are unfair government subsidies going on in this establishment!

Beijing is almost certainly going to get big mad about this and who knows where it goes, but I think even that great poet Nelly would note that our Trade Cold War is getting hot in here, though, given the folks involved, I suggest everyone keep their garments on.

Nissan Dealers: ‘We’re Getting Crushed’

My24 Nissan Rogue 0064

There are many reasons why, if you’re a dealer, you don’t want your parent company to dump a lot of its cars to fleets. The biggest is that it’s bad for residual values as fleets, specifically rental car companies, turn over cars quickly, meaning a flood of cheap and relatively new cars (depending who borrows them) that make it harder for you to charge for your actual new version.

I highly suggest you read this piece in Automotive News because it’s thorough and extremely brutal about Nissan, which is going back to its old ways of relying on fleet sales. The data is great, specifically that 44% of February sales volume went to fleets, and that about 25% over the first 11 months of fiscal 2023 also ended up as fleet sales.

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But the quotes, it’s the quotes. The quotes are rough:

Nissan’s dependence on rental fleets to move metal is “catastrophic” for its retailers, said a dealer, one of four interviewed for this article. They asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation from the automaker.

“Nissan is selling around the dealer network, half of whom are already unprofitable,” the dealer said.

Here’s another one:

“We’re getting crushed,” one of the dealers said. “Honda is selling 100,000 a month, Toyota is selling 170,000, and we’re selling 30,000.”

Dealership lots are piling up with last year’s models, including reportedly more than 30,000 Rogue and nearly 5,000 Ariya crossovers.

This is bad for consumers as well. There are consumers who bought a Nissan Rogue in 2022 or early 2023 and paid above MSRP and still owe money on that car, which means when values plummet they’re underwater and, as one dealer put it, “will never get out of their Nissan.”

‘Our Next Energy’ Lays Off More Staff

Our Next Energy Techs

Last summer I paid a social visit to a friend at Our Next Energy, the Michigan-based battery startup, and there were so many employees crammed into its HQ that the company had to hire a valet just to park staff cars. I saw a Rivian R1T shoved up on a curb.

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This was a big contrast from a couple of years earlier when I shot a video for them at my old company and it felt like ONE was approximately nine people in a big office.

The expected slowdown in the EV market has impacted the company, with CEO and Founder Mujeeb Ijaz moved over into the role of CTO while a new CEO, Paul Humphries, instigating another round of staff reductions.

Per The Detroit News:

The latest reduction includes 37 jobs, 24 of which are in Michigan, as the company deemphasizes administrative roles in favor of its technical work, according to a statement. That’ll leave about 240 employees in Michigan and closer to 270 nationally.

The company is still making batteries as it tries to scale up toward profitability, but it just goes to show that building a battery industry, even with heavy subsidies, is tough work.

What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

I accidentally ended up at a Gin Blossoms concert a couple of years ago. I was visiting a friend at a ski town and her husband worked there and invited us to the summer event they were having and, lo and behold, the Gin Blossoms were playing. They put on a good show, and this throwback review on Pitchfork of the album’s sad history reminded me to listen to that album:

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Since regrouping around the turn of the century, they’ve carried on as a workhorse touring act, sharing ’90s nostalgia packages with bands like Everclear and Sugar Ray and headlining county fairs and gatherings like Canton, Ohio’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Ribs Burnoff or the Mid-South Great Steak Cookoff at Southland Park Gaming and Racing—wherever masses are charring meat outdoors, there’s a chance Gin Blossoms could be there. It’s not a bad living, really.

The Big Question

What was the last car you rented? Did you like it?

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Turbo Quattro CS
Turbo Quattro CS
21 days ago

Getting down in the weeds a bit on unfair trade law/economics, but anti-dumping duties are applied to sales at less than fair value. The investigating agency builds up a cost of production and adds a standard profit, cost of transportation, etc and then compares the computed “fair value” to sales prices. If the sales prices are below fair value AND the dumped products are injuring the domestic industry, antidumping duties (AD) are applied.

Countervailing duties (CVD) are applied to offset subsidies. The investigating agency determines the share of production cost offset by certain types of government subsidies AND if the domestic industry is injured. If both conditions apply, countervailing duties are put in place. Note that not all types of government subsidies are countervailable.

AD and CVD cases can be filed independently, but if CVD cases are filed, AD cases usually accompany them. AD cases are often filed alone. For instance, in the US, just over 700 CVD investigations have been conducted. There have been just less than 1700 AD investigations. In the US, the Department of Commerce is charged with determining the AD and CVD margins (by how much are the products dumped or subsidized) and the margin is transposed into the unfair trade duty. The injury determination is made by the US International Trade Commission. In the EU, the EU Commission makes both the margin and injury determinations.

As a final note, there are several other sections of trade law that can be used to apply additional duties on imports, depending on the situation. That’s a lesson for another day.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Nissan is a trash company these days and has been for a long time. Their CVTs continue to be one of the worst transmissions out there, and since so many are sold to fleets they don’t get the services they need to have any chance of surviving. The Z is cool and all but everything else about them is just terrible. Avoid.

My Skoda is the Most Superb
My Skoda is the Most Superb
1 month ago

Last rental for me was a 2022 Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor that I rented from Hertz when I went back home for two weeks in November. My reservation was for a TM3 RWD so I was pleasantly excited to get the upgrade. I was shocked to see it had 80k miles on the odo and the car was in incredibly rough shape on the outside, fairly grimy on the inside. But it drove very well, efficiency was great, and it was fun to floor it. I’d do it again for sure.

MP81
MP81
1 month ago

Last rental…would have been the free one from our insurance company when my wife ran over the giant tree in the Cruze, while it was being fixed.

It was a 2020 Nissan Altima. Despite all the no-smoking stickers, it definitely smelled of the nicotines.

The rest was Nissan Altima, so I do not think I need to elaborate.

Last edited 1 month ago by MP81
No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
1 month ago

Last rental was a current Malibu. We didn’t notice until we had left the lot, but it smelled like the folds of a sweaty human. So foul that I remember nothing else about the car.

Horizontally Opposed
Horizontally Opposed
1 month ago

2023 Tacoma TRD out of Las Vegas. Great as expected, but after light offroading at a pile of rocks nearby, a rear shock broke off. After replacing both shocks of course, I discovered that the “good” one was leaking fluid – for a Bilstein shock with only 18,000 mi of use that was headscratching. Great color option, and I commend Avis for offering it for a song.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago

The last rental was a Kia Niro. It was… Fine. The lane assist chime was obnoxious so I turned it off.

BagoBoiling
BagoBoiling
1 month ago

Last two rentals were both electric. First was a Benz EQE in Denver. I really enjoyed driving it and was very comfortable. My wife absolutely hated the styling and 8,000 Mercedes logos displayed everywhere.
Second was a Volvo XC40 recharge at PHX. Talk about a pocket rocket.That was WAY more fun to drive than expected. I found it comfortable and practical to the point we went to the dealer to look at getting one. Not quite ready to say goodbye to our V60CC though and fork out that much $.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  BagoBoiling

> Benz EQE in Denver. I really enjoyed driving it and was very comfortable.

> My wife absolutely hated the styling

She’s right

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
1 month ago

Last rental was a 2019 Toyota Corolla wagon with a 1.5 litre engine and a CVT. And not much else. But it got us around nearly 4,000 kilometres of the South Island of New Zealand in January, averaging around 5 litres per 100 km. Which was important since unleaded fuel was NZ$2.76 per litre…

Dangerous_Daveo
Dangerous_Daveo
1 month ago

Last car I rented was a corolla. I did not like it. Not one bit.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
1 month ago

Last car I rented was also a Corolla, and I was just happy it wasn’t a Versa.

Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

Last rental was a Cadillac ATS. 2.0T AWD (upgrade since no midsize available). Peppy, but weird quirks. Like the lock the window control lock also locked the ability for back seat passengers to open their own door from the inside. That should be a separate function, period. Strange no button or other lock on the fuel tank access.

InvivnI
InvivnI
1 month ago

A 2022ish Nissan Pulsar for our 2022 trip around southern Spain. It was fine, though the volume knob was broken so I had to use the steering wheel controls (which, weirdly, I never use on our cars at home, the knob is much more satisfying I guess).

It was also the first modern manual I’d driven and wow! They certainly make things easier these days – hill hold means no handbrake launches necessary, and there was even automatic stall recovery – which shamefully I made use of several times. In my defence I’m used to the shifter being on the other side of the car! These systems really do make the prospect of daily-driving a manual car more feasible.

Peter DeTonnancourt
Peter DeTonnancourt
1 month ago

Last August. – A ’23 Hyundai Sonata in Sacramento. I think it was one bump up from the base model. It rode nicely, good acceleration, quiet cabin, and the adaptive cruise control was one of the best I had ever used. It was a nice car. I rented it for a week.

Spence
Spence
1 month ago

The last car I rented was a Citroen C3, and it was a great little car, exactly what 80% of drivers need in their lives. It handled the tight curves of Provence like a champ and though not powerful, hustled along just fine.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

I had a 2021 (I think) Malibu that I drove while my wife’s Forester was waiting on body work to be done to it. Drove it for 2-3 weeks.

Honestly, it was a genuinely nice car and it’s sort of a shame that Chevy gave up on it. It was comfortable, had nice features for what was obviously a relatively low trim, and it looked pretty decent. The ride was nice, it handled ok, it wasn’t fast but it was quick enough. The interior was shockingly competent for a cheap GM product. The huge sunroof was appreciated.

As far as rentals are concerned I was impressed.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago

The last rental I rode in was a Camry, and this may come as a shock, but the Camry is good. Unexciting, but good.

The last rental I drove was a few years ago now and I think it was a Toyota CH-R (not sure I put the hyphen in the right place – why has Toyota’s naming completely lost the plot lately?). Interior felt better put together than most rental spec cars I’ve had, but I had two issues with it:

  1. It was terrible to drive in the rain. Hydroplaning all of the place.
  2. It had a really nasty shudder at around 45 or 50 mph, bad enough that I actually checked for loose lug nuts at one point. I suspect the CVT was to blame, but I’ll never know for sure.
Bryan McIntosh
Bryan McIntosh
1 month ago

My last rental was a 2023 Mazda CX-30, and it wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t absurdly tall, and felt just a bit bigger driving around downtown Chicago than my daily-driver 2019 Golf is. Fuel economy was good, and I ADORED the wheel-based selection interface for the infotainment system. I know that I’m one of the few weirdos who love it and my wife would loathe trying to use it, but once I got used to how many clicks were needed to do certain functions it was revolutionary.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

$9700. That’s inching awfully close to Changli money!

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 month ago

I had the, ahem, pleasure of renting a Fiat Mobi while in Brazil a few weeks ago. It seemed almost exactly like the one I rented roughly seven years ago.

Likes:

  • Single exterior door-lock mechanism which required a key. When turned, all of the doors locked. Made it difficult to lock one’s keys inside of the car.
  • Price – $190 for two weeks (of course the required insurance effectively doubled this)
  • The AC worked pretty well, most of the time.
  • The looks – it does have some style to it, kind of reminds me of a Mini-Cooper at first glance.
  • The space. For being a subcompact, it managed to fit myself, my wife, and our daughter, plus two weeks of luggage surprisingly well.

Dislikes:

  • The way the engine would almost die about every time I tried to do a slow rolling start in 2nd, or what I would have to do at every one of the roughly 16,000 “quebra molhas” (large speed bumps) I had to maneuver over while there. I’ve rented Corsas, Gols, and a Chevy Celta LT on previous trips to Brazil and none of them had this issue. Keeping the revs up seemed to help, but got annoying – one shouldn’t have to heel-toe over a speed bump.
  • The dash – this car has a sort of traditional speedometer with a needle, and glued to the center of it is this Ali-baba.com looking module that displays fuel, the trip odometer, and I think temperature. It’s a pretty poor excuse for a “digital” dash.

I looked up the current prices and it seems you could buy one of these new last year for around $13,400USD , a price point I’m pretty sure we’ll never ever see a new car listed at again regardless of what China tries to eventually sell here. That said, I have a 2014 Chevy Spark and in no way would consider trading that car for one of these (even if I could).

Griznant
Griznant
1 month ago

Rented a Buick Encore in Tampa last June. What a raging POS. I couldn’t imagine how someone goes into a dealership, drives one, and is like “YEAH! THIS is the car for me!”

I own and drive some real shitboxes but I don’t pay serious money for those and don’t have high expectations. For a new(er) car though? It better be worth it and that thing sucked.

David Smith
David Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Griznant

I’m pretty sure that’s what I ended up with a couple of years ago. Agreed that it was a POS. So bad I unconsciously blocked it’s name from my mind.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
1 month ago

It’s been a few years since I rented a car, but I had a terrible experience when my ex’s Forester was in the body shop for a month in 2021. Enterprise rented me a Corolla that was beat to hell, there was a hole worn in the floormats next to the gas pedal, and it had expired tags! I went back to Enterprise and they swapped it for a KL Cherokee, which was better than I expected based on my experience with a Liberty that had parts falling off on the regular.

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