Years After Unveiling, BYD All-Electric e6 Still Not Ready for U.S. Market

By · July 29, 2013

BYD e6

EV buyers might jump at a chance to drive an affordable crossover with a huge 61.4-kWh battery pack, which has a nominal range of 186 miles. But the BYD e6 is not ready for prime time.

Whatever happened to the BYD e6 Chinese all-electric crossover vehicle? Remember the e6, which BYD displayed at major auto shows and aimed to sell to individual drivers through a network of dealerships? Well, that plan died when BYD realized the e6 wasn’t refined enough for U.S. consumers. Apparently, the e6 still isn’t ready for individual car buyers in the U.S.—even though the e6 is available now for fleet purchases, according to BYD spokesman Michael Austin.

“BYD is in no rush to launch U.S. consumer sales,” said Austin, in an interview with PluginCars.com. “We are finding great success offering our long-range EVs for high-utility fleet applications.”

By high-utility, Austin means a daily driving range of “100 miles or more.”
Clearly, BYD is targeting the taxi market here. According to the information sheet for fleet customers, the e6 offers a “nominal range” of about 186 miles of eTaxi use on a single charge. An e6 can be used for two shifts of nearly 24 hours with one mid-cycle recharge, according to the info sheet put out by BYD about the vehicle. The battery can be fully charged in two hours, it says. It doesn’t specify what kind of voltage but that must be a DC fast charger. The battery has a whopping 61.4-kilowatt-hours worth of storage, using BYD’s lithium phosphate chemistry.

It is no surprise that BYD is focusing on fleet sales initially for the e6. Several BYD folks told PluginCars.com that was the plan in May at the opening of BYD’s plant in Lancaster, Calif. The e6 is still being refined to better meet consumer needs. The company declined to provide a 2013 e6 for a test drive because it is not significantly different from the 2012 version, said Austin.
What is new is that the 2013 model has been approved for the Federal Investment Tax Credit, usually $7,500 for a pure electric vehicle. That will likely make it more attractive to potential fleet purchasers.

More than 650 e6 are already operating in taxi fleets and have logged more than 45 million miles, according to BYD. The south China city of Shenzhen, where BYD is based, began using the e6 in taxi fleets in 2010. The nearby city of Hong Kong also in May said it was adding e6 BEVs to its taxi fleet.

In May 2012, a BYD e6 taxi in Shenzhen caught fire after being rear-ended by a Nissan GT-R going 112 miles per hour. The battery was not the cause of the fire, an investigation concluded. This June, a BYD charging station in Hong Kong overheated according to multiple reports.

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