China is the largest automotive market in the world, and understandably an important market for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers like Tesla. While rival Chinese automaker BYD has no plans to enter the U.S. market yet, the recent introduction of an urban EV with a sub-$10,000 price tag has some concerned if the company and other low-cost companies do.

BYD launched its Seagull, a small hatchback EV with a price tag starting at 69,800 yuan (~$9,773), at the Shanghai Auto Show last year. While BYD said last month that it has no plans to enter the U.S. auto market anytime soon, some U.S. auto groups have raised concerns about the Seagull EV and other affordable mass-market electric vehicles eventually coming to North America.

Credit: WORLD

At the same time, many automakers, including Tesla, are racing to build their next generation of mass-market EVs, which will be produced first in Texas in 2025, and later in an upcoming factory in Mexico, and finally in an upcoming factory. unannounced third location. However, Tesla and other automakers are generally considered to be aiming for a $25,000 price tag, and while affordable, it’s still much higher than $10,000.

Although BYD has no plans to enter the US at this time, the company has started delivering electric vehicles in several markets in Europe and Asia. Despite lingering political concerns, entry into North America is seen as a possibility, and other Chinese automakers are unlikely to be far behind.

Terry Woychowski, a former General Motors (GM) executive who is now president of engineering firm Caresoft Global, called the Seagull’s arrival a “clarification for the rest of the auto industry,” adding that it was a “major event ” is (via CNBC).

A report from the Alliance for American Manufacturing last month highlighted similar points:

“The introduction of cheap Chinese cars – which are so cheap because they are backed by the power and financing of the Chinese government – ​​into the US market could ultimately become an extinction-level event for the US auto sector,” the organization wrote.

BYD sold 1.57 million battery electric vehicles (BEVs) last year, significantly more than in 2020, when the automaker sold just 130,970. The automaker also reached a production milestone of 200,000 Seagull EV units in November.

While Tesla CEO Elon Musk has consistently encouraged competitors to promote sustainable transportation, he sounded a similar warning during Tesla’s Q4 and FY 2023 earnings call in January.

“The Chinese car companies are the most competitive car companies in the world,” Musk said on the call. “So I think they will have significant success outside of China, depending on what kind of tariffs or trade barriers are put in place.”

“Frankly, I think if trade barriers aren’t put in place, they will pretty much destroy most other businesses in the world.”

BYD CEO says Tesla is a ‘partner’ in electrification

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The $10,000 BYD Seagull EV is scaring the US auto industry






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