The long awaited BYD E6 Review

Share Our Knowledge With Your Friends, Contacts And Co-Workers

This review was written by Mark Andrews, a well accomplished automotive journalist based in Shanghai China. You can read many of his other reviews on his personal website.

e6 review6 1024x243 The long awaited BYD E6 Review

For many, electric vehicles evoke memories of milk floats, mobility scooters, or even the ill-fated Sinclair C5. This is changing thanks to companies such as Tesla. Nonetheless, they remain a niche product and although mainstream manufacturers have had test vehicles for a number of years they are only just being launched on the regular market.

Take a taxi in Shenzhen, however, and you may get to ride in one of the first. Since May last year, 50 BYD e6 cars have been operating as red and white coloured taxis.

e6 review1 300x199 The long awaited BYD E6 ReviewHot on the heels of their F3DM, BYD is again showing it aims to be at the forefront of alternative energy vehicles in China, if not the world. It may well be for this reason that Warren Buffett owns 10% of the company. Furthermore, Daimler Benz beat a path to BYD’s door last year to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles.

As with most of their more recent designs the e6 moves away in styling from the clones and heavily inspired earlier models. Looks are pretty unique apart from a rear end that is reminiscent of a Range Rover. And when you get up close the car is really almost SUV sized. The body sits high above the wheels, and the body is tall. A glance at the chassis shows the reason to be the bulging battery pack.

As the e6 has yet to launch on the market and what was tested has to be taken as a prototype or pre-production model it is difficult to really judge. Gaps between panels were uneven and on one side of the rear hatch was large enough to fit a whole finger in.

The interior apart from the centrally mounted digital instruments seems Spartan. However, as shown in company pictures of another prototype, the production version is likely to get a GPS system and steering wheel mounted controls. To the left of the steering wheel is the balance control for the headlamps and a hole suitable for a mobile or more likely a pack of cigarettes. In fact the whole car seems to have been designed with smokers in mind, with ashtrays in the doors.

The dash is split into a black upper and beige lower. Below the instruments are the stereo controls and a display for this and the internal temperature. Sprouting between the Power button and the climate controls is a selector for the automatic gearbox.

Between the front seats is an enclosed storage compartment with buttons to open and close the doors. However, the whole unit felt as if it could easily break free. Other plastic covers feel equally flimsy.

In the back there is good legroom and headspace. However, with your legs relatively high the position might become uncomfortable on long drives. The middle passenger has to make do with a lap restraint. For a car of its size the boot space is tiny thanks to the batteries. There are however two small compartments in it which help alleviate the problem and the seats fold down.e6 review2 300x199 The long awaited BYD E6 Review

When you sit in the beige coloured manually adjusted leather driver’s seat one of the first things you’ll notice is that there are three pedals, the third being the handbrake. Press the power button and the digital instruments light up in the centre. On the right is a display showing how much battery power remains and an estimate of the range.

As can be expected on the move the car is almost silent. There is though a slight perceptible whir from the engine. Acceleration was on the sluggish side with the need to really floor the accelerator to build up speed. This though, was due to only being able to drive in the Eco mode.

Handling on a limited test around BYD’s Shenzhen headquarters seemed adequate. However, due to the largely straight nature of the roads cornering was not very hard. Similarly the car gave a smooth enough ride over speed control lines and humps.

Taxi drivers in China are pretty demanding customers, working long hours. It is commendable that BYD chose them to test the car before putting it on sale. From our test it would appear that the engineering side of the car obviously works. BYD, though, plan to use this vehicle as their first into America and then Europe. Whilst difficult to measure from a car that has to be taken as a prototype it seems that BYD have some way to go.

The Nissan Leaf, which can be seen as a direct competitor, is already on sale in a number of markets. Whilst the Leaf claims only a 160km range – around half of that claimed for the e6’s – it appears a much more rounded proposition.

As it stands the e6 is a one trick pony; for foreign customers build quality and equipment levels have to be better. There is also currently a big question mark over the safety level of the vehicle with no official crash tests having been undertaken and only two airbags fitted.

This review was written by Mark Andrews, a well accomplished automotive journalist based in Shanghai China. You can read many of his other reviews on his personal website.

About the author  ⁄ Mark Andrews

11 Comments

  • Chad
    April 8, 2011

    Uh, so what’s the actual range? And I’d disagree with build quality having to be better. There’s no other competition close to the *claimed* electric range of the E6, and if it’s cheap enough, I’m sure a lot of people would get it for the cost savings alone.

  • I __ H a t e __ C h i n a
    April 9, 2011

    @ Chad

    > Uh, so what’s the actual range?

    Around 180 km.

    > And I’d disagree with build quality having to be better.

    When people are paying $40K for a car, they expect to get their money’s worth.

    > There’s no other competition close to the *claimed* electric range of the E6,

    Tesla easily destroys E6 in actual real world range.

    > and if it’s cheap enough, I’m sure a lot of people would get it for the cost savings alone.

    That’s not how western consumers think.

    In the US and Europe, the price of a car is only a minor cost of overall ownership cost; insurance, repair(It costs thousands of dollars each time a car goes into a repair shop) and resale value cost way more.

    A car isn’t a pair of $10 Chinese shoes, and you will see consumers resisting Chinese brand goods when the price exceeds $1,000 on anything.

  • TheK
    April 9, 2011

    Well, the Tesla is “a little bit” more expensive. ;)

    On an EV the buying price *is* by far the biggest part of the cost.

  • bizcardbandit
    April 9, 2011

    Excellent review! This is the first time that we’ve actually seen inside the trunk!

  • Ed
    April 9, 2011

    “> Uh, so what’s the actual range?
    Around 180 km.”

    “Tesla easily destroys E6 in actual real world range.”

    Where did you get the numbers from? How much does a Tesla cost? How much more expensive is it than the E6 and how much farther is its “real world range”, according to you?

    “> And I’d disagree with build quality having to be better.
    When people are paying $40K for a car, they expect to get their money’s worth.”

    Do remember that this is a prototype therefore the quality of the production model cannot be determined.

    “A car isn’t a pair of $10 Chinese shoes, and you will see consumers resisting Chinese brand goods when the price exceeds $1,000 on anything.”

    How much choice do Western consumers have even when they want to buy from Chinese branded products costing over a thousand dollars? The only brand that fits the availability factor is Lenovo, and I’ve never seen anyone “resist” Lenovo PCs just because they are Chinese.

    “When people are paying $40K for a car, they expect to get their money’s worth.”
    Even if this was a production model, price and range are just as important as overall quality, and ultimately what consumers look for is bang for the buck. Forty thousand dollars for a car isn’t cheap, but how many forty thousand dollar EVs are out there with a range of over 300km on a single charge? This “car” you are talking about rides on a different concept than other ordinary cars.

  • tigger
    April 15, 2011

    The range of 300km or 186 MILES is all the reason I need to buy one , as for a one trick pony, thats a pretty good trick for the price. I’m sure they’ll get less expensive the more they sell of them. You’d have a hard time putting 4 people in a Tesla.

  • chrystos
    April 24, 2011

    Hi, lets say I buy one. It develops a problem. It needs a qualified BYD mechanic & shop. The closest one is in–China? … Let’s say it even needs a proprietary — capacitor. Okay, do I have to wait until they send it from, say, Munich? Seems like a great car, but people seem to be overlooking the fact that owners will probably still be driving their new car in 2016…. Aging. Denial. It’s not a river in Egypt. :-)

  • Eric Bechhoefer
    June 27, 2011

    This is just the start. 5 years from now, the US will buy 19 million cars. China will buy 47 million cars and gas will be $10 a gallon. 50% of the cars sold will be electric. BYD is putting in the infrastructure to meet this demand. The LiFePO battery is a better technology than what GM or Toyota is using – it fast charges in 20 minutes, and has a 10 year guarantee. It also does not burst into flames when shorted….. I’d think about buying stock in BYD and A123 batteries……

  • I __ H a t e __ C h i n a
    June 27, 2011

    @ Eric Bechhoefer

    > The LiFePO battery is a better technology than what GM or Toyota is using

    And not a single global automaker is using LiFePO4. Even Daimler is using Lithium Manganese Polymer for its European EV models.

    Why the near universal rejection of LiFePO4? I know the answer but won’t tell you, you go research for yourself.

    > it fast charges in 20 minutes, and has a 10 year guarantee.

    It will die in less than 10 years.

    > It also does not burst into flames when shorted…..

    GM revealed that LG’s Lithium Manganese Polymer cells performed better than A123′s LiFePO4 cells during its crash test.

    > I’d think about buying stock in BYD and A123 batteries……

    You go ahead and buy A123 stocks, because A123′s stock price is on a free fall and is now 1/6th of the IPO price.

  • Phil
    June 27, 2011

    BYD is an up and coming company.
    I would like to open an Dealership here in the Northeast USA.
    We will have a parts dept just like every other dealership. Tesla is a great car if you have a $120,000 dollars to pay for it. With BYD electric costing around $40,000 You can buy 3 BYD electric for the same price as one Tesla.

  • Hello
    April 21, 2012

    Byd or Denza will have dealerships, if there are dealerships, there are repair shops. What you are saying is what they said 15 years ago about hybrids. And look how they turned out now.

Leave a Comment

See News by Industry
Industry News China Green Auto News Spy Shots China Auto Culture
See News By Brand
Acura China Acura China Aston Martin China Aston Martin Audi China,FAW-Audi Audi China
Baojun Auto Baojun Beijing Auto Beijing Auto Group Beijing Auto Beijing Auto
Besturn Auto, FAW Besturn Besturn BMW China BMW China Brilliance Auto Brilliance Auto
Buick China Buick China Baojun Auto BYD Baojun Auto Cadillac
Changa,Chang'an Chang'an - Chana Changfeng Changfeng Changhe Auto Changhe
Chery Auto Chery Chevrolet China Chevrolet Chevrolet China Chrysler
Citroen China Citroen Dodge China Dodge Dodge China Citroen DS
Dongfeng Auto Dongfeng Geely Emgrand Emgrand Geely Emgrand Englon
FAW,First Automobile Works FAW Ferrari China Ferrari Fiat China Fiat
Foday Auto Foday Ford China,Changan-Ford Ford Guangzhou Auto Guangzhou Auto
Geely Auto Geely Geely Auto Gleagle GoNow Auto GoNow
Great Wall Great Wall Hafei Auto Hafei Haima Haima
Hawtai Hawtai Honda Honda Huanghai Yellow Sea Auto Huanghai (Yellow Sea)
Hyundai China Hyundai Infiniti China Infiniti JAC China JAC
Jaguar Jaguar Jinbei Jinbei JMC JMC
Kia Kia     Jaguar Land Rover
Landwind Landwind Lexus China Lexus Lifan Auto Lifan
Lincoln Lincoln Youngman Lotus Youngman Lotus Luxgen Luxgen
Mazda Mazda Mercedes China Mercedes MG - Morris Garages MG
MINI China MINI Mitsubishi China Mitsubishi Nissan China Nissan
Opel China Opel Opel China Peugeot Reely China Reely
Renault Riich Riich Riich Roewe
Rolls-Royce China Rolls-Royce SEAT SEAT Senova Senova/ShenBao
Double Ring Double Ring - Shuang Huan Sichuan Yema Sichuan Yema Skoda Skoda
Double Ring Smart Subaru Subaru Suzuki Suzuki
Toyota Toyota Volvo Volvo Volkswagen Volkswagen
Zotye Zotye   Others    
Close
Sign up today to receive China Car Times weekly newsletter!
Your name
Your email