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Timing revealed for BYD Dolphin and Seal electric cars: More affordable Chinese rivals to Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model 3 to go on sale in Australia this year

The Dolphin could well become the most affordable electric car in Australia when it goes on sale in quarter four.

More cut-price electric cars are headed to Australia in the next 12 months, with recently launched Chinese brand BYD leading the charge.

BYD has just arrived in Australia via distributor EV Direct and the first model available to Australians is the Atto 3 small SUV that’s just gone on sale from $44,381 before on-road costs.

But that’s just the beginning, according to EV Direct managing director and CEO Luke Todd, who said there will be three all-electric BYD models on sale in Australia by this time next year.

Mr Todd told CarsGuide there is plenty more to come from the fledgling brand in Australia, highlighting just some of the activity expected in the coming years, including a further expansion of the model range.

“I think when you break down things like our production capability, the quality of cars that we have, the fact that we'll have eight models available to the Australian public by 2024, the fact that we're looking at a national retail exposure with potential partners like Eagers Automotive and our existing partner which will continue – My Car tyre and auto, plus our digital presence, there's no reason that BYD can't be one of the leading car brands in Australia within the next 24 months.”

Those are some lofty goals, but Mr Todd isn’t shy about the prospects of BYD Down Under.

He told CarsGuide that in quarter four, likely November or December, pre-sales will begin for the Dolphin electric hatchback and the Seal sedan, ahead of deliveries starting for both models in March 2023.

EV Direct will take a similar approach to model names as it has with the Atto 3. That model is called the Yuan Plus in other markets, including its home market, China. The Dolphin and Seal will also be renamed for Australia, but Mr Todd said the company was yet to land on names for those models.

The BYD Atto 3 is named Yuan Plus in other markets. The BYD Atto 3 is named Yuan Plus in other markets.

The Dolphin – or EA1 – is a small city hatchback with an NEDC driving range of up to 405km, depending on the variant, and it is expected to undercut the price of the Atto 3. That means the Nissan Leaf rival should take the title of Australia’s cheapest electric car with an expected price of between $35,000 and $40,000.

At the same time, the just revealed Seal sedan, based on last year’s Ocean X concept will provide BYD with a Tesla Model 3 rival. Pricing is unclear at this stage, but it is expected to come in under the Model 3 that is also built in China.

Precisely what other models will fill out the line-up by 2024 is unclear, but there is a growing range of electric models in the BYD stable to choose from. An electric ute is just one of the models being considered.

Each model will use BYD’s ‘blade battery’ that is more slimline and lightweight than some battery packs and is said to be less susceptible to catching fire.

Mr Todd said he was targeting five-star ANCAP ratings for all BYD models that will be added to the Australian roster.

He said that beyond the existing EV Direct Experience Centre in the inner Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst, EV Direct had signed a memorandum of understanding with retail giant Eagers Automotive to explore a possible future retail partnership.