EVERYTHING we know about the BYD Seagull. Will this be the UK’s cheapest EV?

Mike Askew

2 Jul 2024

BYD may still be a new name to many British motorists, but that could change dramatically when its most affordable new car hits the UK next year. While the brand’s Atto 3, Seal and Dolphin models have been well received, the forthcoming Seagull is a car that is likely to grab all the headlines. The reason? It’s price. Designed from the very outset to be one of the most affordable electric cars ever, it’s expected to land in the UK with a price tag of under £15,000. 

What is the BYD Seagull?

The Seagull measures a mere 3.78 meters long, slotting neatly into the city car segment alongside city cars like the Fiat 500e. It will be smaller than the current crop of electric superminis such as the Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot e-208, but is expected to offer more interior space than its traditional superminis thanks to its electric-only underpinnings. 

What range does the BYD Seagull have?

While official details for the UK market models have yet to be confirmed, Chinese market cars are offered with two battery options, a 30kWh pack and a larger 39kWh pack that features BYD’s Blade technology. Both use cobalt-free LFP (lithium iron phosphate) chemistry, much like the rest of the brand’s range. Chinese domestic market models offer a published range of between 185 and 250 miles, but it should be noted that the range test criteria for Chinese cars is much less rigorous than the European WLTP tests. 

Is the BYD Seagull coming to the UK?

Yes - but not until next year. BYD’s European bosses confirmed in April that it was progressing with plans to introduce a European version of the Seagull following its successful launch in China last year. With a UK-equivalent price tag of just £8,000, the Seagull has been a huge hit with buyers in BYD’s home market. 

Will the Seagull be £8,000 when it comes to the UK?

In a word, no. The Chinese and European car markets differ in a number of key ways and BYD has quite a job on its hands to make the Seagull available to UK buyers at a lower price than the nation’s current cheapest electric car - the Dacia Spring (£14,995). 

Although the car will be based on the Chinese market model, BYD will need to change fundamental parts of the design in order for it to comply with European crash test regulations. Note that we’re talking about EU regulations here rather than EuroNCAP ratings, which are different. If the Seagull’s crash test protection falls below the standards set by EU regulations, it can’t be homologated (type approved) and can’t legally be sold as a car. Bringing the Seagull up to European safety standards is likely to be a relatively straightforward engineering job (BYD altered the Dolphin design prior to its European launch), but will add to the cost of production. 

There are two other factors that will push the Seagull’s price up - import tariffs and VAT. Even without the EU’s proposed increase in import tariffs for Chinese cars, all cars built in China currently attract a 10% tariff when they land on UK. Then there is VAT. In China, electric car buyers don’t pay VAT if the list price is below £36,700. In the UK, buyers will have 20% of the list price added.   

What is the price of the BYD Seagull?

BYD has priced its other models competitively against more established names, and relied on generous specification levels rather than low list prices to entice buyers in. If BYD does the same with the Seagull, it is likely to come to the UK market with a price tag of around £14,000 for an entry-level model. Higher spec models with more kit and a larger battery would be closer to £18,000, which is still low for a car that offers around 200 miles of range.

What will be the BYD Seagull’s rivals?

Small, affordable electric cars are coming to the UK in waves over the next two years with Citroen, Dacia, Leapmotor and Hyundai all wanting a slice of the market. The Dacia Spring will be the first to arrive this summer with a remarkable sub-£15,000 price tag, closely followed by the Leapmotor T03 by the end of the year. The Hyundai INSTER is expected to hit the £20,000 mark and come with a 200 mile range, while the Citroen e-C3 will offer even more range and kit for around £23,000. 

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