BYD’s new pickup truck sounds too good to be true
Chinese cars probably won’t be coming to America anytime soon, but they are already on sale in several global markets. From Europe to Mexico, manufacturers like Great Wall Motors and MG (yes, it’s now a Chinese brand) are making huge inroads, and now an outlet in Australia Selling cars Reports indicate that BYD is building its first-ever vehicle to battle the Toyota Hilux.
Although BYD is a big player in battery electric vehicles, the unnamed pickup truck will start life as a hybrid with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. Not only should this allay overall range concerns, but it could make for a suitably powerful pickup truck, with Selling cars Claiming a “reported power output of 364 kilowatts.” That’s 488 horsepower, which is a huge number in a Ford Ranger competitor.
BYD’s upcoming vehicle looks decent, as revealed by patent drawings. Derivative, sure, but decent. There’s a little Nissan Frontier in the arches above the fenders, a lot of Ford in the front fascia, and acres of plastic cladding, but no huge gaps and nothing too unwieldy. I’m sure the aftermarket will eventually rip it off with more lights than an Ibiza nightclub, but in stock form nothing about the design should scare consumers away from showrooms.
Australian BYD importer Luke Todd said Selling cars “(With) these models, we’ve blown everyone out of the water at the price point and we’re working hard to achieve that with the ute as well.” Powerful, green, decently sized, and allegedly priced much less than a Toyota Hilux? What interest?
Although Australia pays high prices for new cars, vehicles that trade heavily on price often have obvious shortcomings. For example, the BYD Atto 3, a small, inexpensive electric crossover, has a fast-charging rate of just 88 kilowatts, and didn’t get the best reviews in Europe. British magazine Autocar It claims its test model was made of off-gassing plastic, had an “unstable” infotainment system, and wasn’t exactly optimized when driving intent increased.
When you drive the car a little harder, you’ll find that its composure begins to weaken at the edges. Surface imperfections mid-corner can lead to harsh steering bounce, and even in a straight line, you’ll feel potholes through the steering more clearly than other cars. You get a different kind of steering corruption during acceleration, with the Atto 3 showing some torque steer as well.
Additionally, the reported range is well below its rating in the WLTP Optimistic cycle.
Measuring the Atto 3’s economy was a bit risky, since its own efficiency readings were hopelessly unreliable, with it at one point claiming to be doing 12 megakWh during performance testing. The average figure of 3.4 miles per kilowatt-hour was calculated using the kilowatt-hours charged for the number of miles traveled. It’s a little worse than what we got from the (Cupra) Born and (Kia) Niro EV, but it still manages a range of up to 201 miles. When fully charged, the car will always predict a range of 260 miles, which is its WLTP number, which is clearly unrealistic.
Of course, the Atto 3 is a previous generation product, however Autocar Reports indicate that the new BYD Dolphin suffers from many of the Atto 3’s issues such as a flat UX infotainment system and disappointing handling, all while bringing a new annoyance to the party.
Being new for 2023, the Dolphin also has chime sounds and a spoken message that reprimands you for going over what you think is (but often isn’t) the speed limit. It’s annoying and hard to stop. Button, please!
Well, this should lead you to the turn. Of course, Chinese cars that aren’t up to Western standards are said to be not just a BYD thing, as the GWM Ora Funky Cat has received average reviews in Europe as well, with Auto Express Noting substandard ride and handling, along with significant difficulties with infotainment.
Although the upcoming BYD ute looks impressive, there is a possibility that it may not live up to the standards of the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. Sure, the much cheaper double cab looks great, but please temper your expectations. It wouldn’t take much for Chinese manufacturers to bring their cars up to the level of Western refinement, but even when the bulk of Chinese cars reach basic parity with their European, American and Japanese counterparts, customer sentiment often lags. Chinese brands could face uphill battles similar to those faced by Hyundai and Kia in the market, and it may take another decade before models trade on desirability and all-round differentiation rather than price. Of course, we’ll just have to see what happens, right?
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