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Look out Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Honda CR-V and Mitsubishi Outlander: why the BYD Sealion 6 might be Australia's next favourite midsized SUV hybrid

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BYD says the Sealion 6 will be its number-one seller.
BYD says the Sealion 6 will be its number-one seller.

If you’re in the market for an affordable family-sized hybrid-powered SUV, an upstart brand from China is about to throw a cat amongst the pigeons.

BYD, the Build Your Dreams brand that has turned the electric vehicle (EV) market on its ear in Australia since 2022 with the Atto 3 and Seal, is about to shift gears with its first mass-market offering in Australia.

The BYD Sealion 6 launched this month as the brand’s first internal combustion engine (ICE) model and is priced from $48,990 before on-road costs for the base Dynamic and $52,990 for the Premium variant.

The Sealion 6 is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that takes the fight right up to the heart of the Australian consumer, against bestsellers like the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Nissan X-Trail e-Power, MG HS PHEV, Haval H6 HEV and Honda CR-V e:HEV.

According to BYD importer EV Direct CEO David Smitherman, the newcomer is exactly the right vehicle at the right time in Australia, gatecrashing a class of vehicle that in the first four months of this year, outstripped all others amongst passenger car and SUVs alike.

“Look at the segment size,” he told CarsGuide at the launch of the Sealion 6. “What we know is that Australians love SUVs and this is the right-sized vehicle at the right time.

The SUV comes in single and dual-motor configurations.
The SUV comes in single and dual-motor configurations.

“Yes, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is certainly a competitor, but I think for us it’s about really bringing a vehicle that we think meets a lot of people’s needs. Physical size, the (PHEV) nature is also going to be attractive, the full design, packaging, pricing will be very attractive… we will be very competitive across the range.”

The Sealion 6 will be the first of a concerted assault on the Australian SUV segment by BYD, and will include smaller as well as larger models not yet released elsewhere in the world.

“Large, small – all of them (are in the running for Australia),” Smitherman added.

The Sealion 6 Premium can hit 100km/h in 5.9 seconds.
The Sealion 6 Premium can hit 100km/h in 5.9 seconds.

“I guess you just have to look at what’s available in other markets and you just see, starting with the Sealion 6, we are wanting to chase volume in the big segment. And the best segments we know are SUVs in Australia, which is exactly where (Sealion 6) sits.

Toyota took 18 years to get to 100,000 hybrids (in Australia), Tesla’s taken 10 years to sell 100,000, and we see ourselves doubling in volume year-after- year and that we can cumulatively get that result very quickly.

“You fish where the fish are, right?”

Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist
Byron started his motoring journalism career when he joined John Mellor in 1997 before becoming a freelance motoring writer two years later. He wrote for several motoring publications and was ABC Youth radio Triple J's "all things automotive" correspondent from 2001 to 2003. He rejoined John Mellor in early 2003 and has been with GoAutoMedia as a senior product and industry journalist ever since. With an eye for detail and a vast knowledge base of both new and used cars Byron lives and breathes motoring. His encyclopedic knowledge of cars was acquired from childhood by reading just about every issue of every car magazine ever to hit a newsstand in Australia. The child Byron was the consummate car spotter, devoured and collected anything written about cars that he could lay his hands on and by nine had driven more imaginary miles at the wheel of the family Ford Falcon in the driveway at home than many people drive in a lifetime. The teenage Byron filled in the agonising years leading up to getting his driver's license by reading the words of the leading motoring editors of the country and learning what they look for in a car and how to write it. In short, Byron loves cars and knows pretty much all there is to know about every vehicle released during his lifetime as well as most of the ones that were around before then.
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