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China’s BYD launches Dolphin EV in Japan as it seeks to pry open market

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BYD launches Dolphin EV in Japan to pry open market dominated by local heavyweights Toyota, Honda and Nissan

BYD, China’s biggest EV maker, has launched its Dolphin compact hatch in Japan, where imported cars account for a small slice of the marketThe Dolphin’s base model, equipped with a 70 kilowatt hour battery offering 400km of range, is priced at US$24,560Electric & new energy vehiclesBloombergPublished: 10:23am, 20 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

BYD introduced its Dolphin electric vehicle to Japan, betting that the compact hatch will help spearhead sales in a market that remains hesitant to embrace Chinese carmakers or EVs.

The Dolphin will start from 3.63 million yen (US$24,560), BYD Auto Japan announced on Wednesday at a launch event in Tokyo. The base model has a 70 kilowatt hour battery offering 400km of range. The extended-range model is priced at 4 million yen, with the 150 kWh battery giving 476km per charge.

While BYD is China’s biggest carmaker and a front runner in the global industry’s rapid transition to EVs, it has made little headway in Japan, where people prefer to buy cars from domestic powerhouses Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Nissan Motor. Imported cars, mostly luxury models from the likes of BMW and Volkswagen’s Porsche division, account for just 6 per cent of the market, according to Bloomberg Intelligence senior car analyst Tatsuo Yoshida.

BYD has delivered only about 700 of its Atto 3 electric sport-utility vehicles in the country since sales started in January. The SUV is priced from 4.4 million yen, but has struggled to compete with Nissan’s electric Leaf, which starts from around 4.1 million yen. Nissan’s mini Sakura, priced at just over 2.5 million yen, is Japan’s top-selling EV.

In Japan, hybrids also remain far more popular than pure battery electric vehicles, with market leader Toyota notoriously slow to shift to EVs.

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