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Is the 2025 BYD Shark ute's Australian development enough to take on established rivals like the Toyota HiLux or Ford Ranger?

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BYD Shark.
BYD Shark.

The rise and rise of BYD in Australia has been punctuated by some of the most impressive sales increases for a new brand, a can-do attitude peppered with incredibly optimistic claims and a string of new cars that’s soon to include a dual-cab ute.

BYD’s existing offerings in Australia seem to have won over their intended audience with competitive pricing, relative availability and solid perceived quality and value.

But when the BYD Shark ute arrives on our shores, it will face a different audience, and it won’t be one looking for the most affordable or the prettiest products.

Australians are ute-obsessed, and the highest-selling models - the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux and Isuzu D-Max - hold their places at the top rungs of the ladder through reputation and ability.

The BYD Shark is set to arrive with some impressive claims, including a driving range of up to 100km in EV mode, and a total range of about 845km.

Its 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is joined by an electric motor for a total 320kW and 650Nm to all four wheels, and it’s set to be faster than a Ford Ranger Raptor.

However, its towing capacity of 2500kg (braked) is a whole ton short of the industry standard 3500kg braked capacity here in Australia.

But at the Australian reveal of the BYD Sealion 6, Managing Director of BYD’s local importer EVDirect Luke Todd told media the Shark has “been built around Australia”.

“We’ve had probably more input into the Shark. So the Shark has been built around Australia,” Todd said.

“For the Shark, as has been publicised, I was with five engineers for several, several weeks, if not longer in China. Hands on tools, under the vehicle. 

“So I know how much effort we put into the Shark. We've got some Sharks here at the moment doing some testing. 

“And it's been Australianised the most out of all of the vehicles.”

While it’s been rumoured more utes could come from the brand, BYD’s Asia Pacific General Manager Liu Xueliang essentially confirmed as much when speaking to media, highlighting that he’s aware the towing capacity is something that could be improved.

“We will bring many different variants and generations of a certain model to the Australian market,” Liu Xueliang told journalists via a translator. 

Utes accounted for almost 20 per cent (19.6%) of all vehicles sold in 2023.
Utes accounted for almost 20 per cent (19.6%) of all vehicles sold in 2023.

“So with the BYD Shark, probably the first generation we won’t be able to [increase the towing capacity], but we will always keep upgrading and creating new models as well.

“So BYD Shark won’t be the only model we will bring to Australia, so eventually there will be many upgraded models [to satisfy the towing capacity].”

It’s not just the Shark that’s been altered slightly for Australia, though to what extent is yet to be clear in future - Todd told media the new Sealion 6 SUV has also been through some “Australianisation”.

“This has been two years in development, back and forth,” he said, “It's things like suspension. So you notice with the Seal we've been constantly getting better and better and better. 

“When we launched the Seal, we were very conscious, being a performance vehicle, to get the suspension right. And there was a lot of effort. A lot of engineering effort went into that.”

The BYD Shark is expected to arrive by Q1 2025, but exact local details and specifications - including pricing, are still unconfirmed.

Chris Thompson
Journalist
Racing video games, car-spotting on road trips, and helping wash the family VL Calais Turbo as a kid were all early indicators that an interest in cars would stay present in Chris’ life, but loading up his 1990 VW Golf GTI Mk2 and moving from hometown Brisbane to work in automotive publishing in Melbourne ensured cars would be a constant. With a few years as MOTOR Magazine’s first digital journalist under his belt, followed by a stint as a staff journalist for Wheels Magazine, Chris’ career already speaks to a passion for anything with four wheels, especially the 1989 Mazda MX-5 he currently owns. From spending entire weeks dissecting the dynamic abilities of sports cars to weighing up the practical options for car buyers from all walks of life, Chris’ love for writing and talking about cars means if you’ve got a motoring question, he can give you an answer.
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