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Big BYD mystery solved? Chinese brand registers TWO new models for Australia including its cheapest electric car yet and a plug-in rival for the Toyota LandCruiser Prado

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BYD has a busy launch schedule ahead
BYD has a busy launch schedule ahead

Just weeks after announcing a raft of mystery launches for Australia this year, Chinese brand BYD has trademarked two new nameplates for our market, paving the way for its cheapest EV yet, along with a plug-in hybrid Toyota LandCruiser Prado rival.

Both trademarks appeared in Australia this week, the first being for the Dolphin Mini, and the second being for the BYD Bao, also known as the Bao 5 in some markets.

We'll start with the Dolphin Mini, which is the name BYD has given its Seagull electric vehicle in international markets.

The Dolphin Mini measures just 3780mm long and 1715mm wide, but thanks to a choice of 30kWh or 38kWh battery packs, it will drive up to 405km between charges.

Crucially, the Dolphin Mini – or Seagull in its home market – is priced from around $17,000 to $21,000 in China, based on current currency conversions.

Given the Dolphin is already Australia's cheapest EV, at $38,890, a four-seater Dolphin Mini would give BYD an even more affordable model, which could even start at just below $30k.

As previously reported by CarsGuide, standard features appear to include items like 15- or 16-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting all-round, camera-based auto emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control, app connectivity with an NFC key and a similar curvy interior design as already seen on the Atto 3 SUV.

Cabin tech is covered by a 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen, a wireless charging pad, and climate control.

The second trademark, though, likely won't be for an EV at all, with the Bao thought to refer to the Fang Cheng Bao 5, a plug-in hybrid ladder-frame 4WD that features BYD's Dual-Motor Intelligence technology.

Billed as a rival for the LandCruiser Prado or the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the Fang Cheng Bao 5 will start at 300,000 yuan in China (around $A64,500) and top out at 400,000 yuan (around $A85,000) for the top-spec models, according to international reports.

The Dolphin Mini measures just 3780mm long and 1715mm wide, but thanks to a choice of 30kWh or 38kWh battery packs, it will drive up to 405km between charges.
The Dolphin Mini measures just 3780mm long and 1715mm wide, but thanks to a choice of 30kWh or 38kWh battery packs, it will drive up to 405km between charges.

For that, you get a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with twin electric motors (one at each axle) to deliver a potent 500kW and 760Nm. And because the plug-in hybrid is fitted with a bigger (31.4kWh) battery than a typical hybrid, the brand is promising a 120km all-electric driving range, as well as a 1200km total driving range when the fuel tank and battery are combined.

Dubbed a "super hybrid", the Fang Cheng Bao 5 stretches 4890mm in length, 1970mm in width and 1920mm in height, and it rides on a 2800mm wheelbase. That makes the two-row, five-seat SUV marginally smaller than a full-size three-row SUV.

The off-road stuff is covered by its ladder-frame chassis, complete with three differential locks, 18-inch Goodrich tyres, a decent-looking ride height, and the brand's Intelligent Hydraulic Body Control System, which can not only individually raise individual wheel heights by 200mm, but will also reportedly deliver a 200 per cent increase in stiffness when cornering.

While BYD in Australia stopped short of confirming that the trademarks would lead to local launches, the brand said it was hoping to launch "as many models as possible".

The Seal U will be next to arrive. But in a recent statement the brand promised "a further three product launches before the end of 2024". One of those will be the brand's first ute, but the other two models remain a mystery, though the trademarking of the Dolphin Mini and the Bao would suggest those are the two most likely.

"We continue to work with BYD to bring as many vehicles as possible to the country," the chairman of BYD importer EVDirect, Luke Todd, told CarsGuide.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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