BYD Dolphin electric-car pre-orders pass 1000, in showrooms soon

Order books for Australia's new cheapest electric vehicle – the BYD Dolphin hatchback – are off to a strong start.

Australian buyers have already begun to line up for the 2024 BYD Dolphin electric hatchback from China ahead of first local deliveries on track for September or October 2023, pending any delays.

The boss of the local distributor for BYD vehicles in Australia – Luke Todd – told Drive the company has taken more than 1000 refundable pre-orders for the Dolphin since the price was announced two weeks ago.

First deliveries are on track for October 2023, Mr Todd said – pending any delays as the vehicle is put through certification processes to approve it for sale and use on Australian roads.

The Chinese-made Dolphin was last month announced as Australia's cheapest new electric vehicle, priced from $38,890 plus on-road costs.

It undercuts another rival from China – the MG 4 Excite 51kWh – by $100, and has sparked a price war between the two Chinese brands to sell Australia's cheapest new electric car.

BYD executives have claimed the $100 difference in price between the Dolphin and MG 4 is purely a coincidence, and the BYD's price was locked in months ago.

"[Pre-orders] have been very strong and they've exceeded our expectations, and our expectations were quite high," Mr Todd told Drive.

The executive said BYD in China has capacity to produce up to about 3000 examples of each of its models per month.

While the base version of the Dolphin today is Australia's cheapest electric car – at $38,890 plus on-road costs – Mr Todd said there are no plans for an even more affordable version.

"Something we want to focus on moving forward is having all of the inclusions that we can inside the price ... we want to bring fully specified vehicles and have a very simple, convenient buying process for consumers so they know exactly what they're getting," Mr Todd said.

These "inclusions" extend to metallic paint, which does not cost extra on the Dolphin.

Compared to the $38,990 plus on-road costs version of the MG 4, the Dolphin is better equipped, but has a smaller body, a smaller battery pack enabling less driving range, and a less powerful electric motor.

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Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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