BYD, Tesla’s main rival on the global EV scene, is contemplating bringing its budget-friendly Seagull electric car to British consumers. While the decision on the launch timing remains pending, if introduced, the 3.8-metre-long model could potentially become the most affordable electric vehicle on the UK market, undercutting the Dacia Spring.

Mark Blundell, the marketing chief of BYD UK, told Autocar there’s a market niche for the Seagull in the UK below the existing Dolphin hatchback range. Sold under the moniker Dolphin Mini in certain markets, the Seagull aligns with BYD's strategy to democratise electric mobility by offering competitively priced options. Blundell emphasised the importance of making electric vehicles accessible to a wider demographic, stressing the need for affordability in the EV landscape.

Gallery: BYD Seagull

In its native China, the Seagull is available in three variants: the Vitality Edition, Freedom Edition, and Flying Edition. All models feature a 74 bhp synchronous motor, boasting a top speed of 81 mph and acceleration from 0 to 31 mph in 4.9 seconds. The vehicle is equipped with a 30 kWh LFP blade battery in the Vitality and Freedom models, offering a cruising range of about 190 miles. The range-topping Flying model has a larger 38 kWh battery, good for a range of up to 252 miles. In China, the Seagull is priced at approximately £8,000, and its popularity is evident from the sale of 239,270 units in the previous year alone.

Introduced in mid-March this year, the latest iteration of the Dacia Spring is currently the most affordable new electric vehicle in Britain. The zero-emissions city car is available for pre-orders now with a £99 deposit, starting at £14,995 on-the-road price. It has a smaller battery and a less powerful electric motor than the Seagull, though.

Back to BYD's expansion plans in the UK, the strategy involves ramping up its dealer network from 21 to 60 by summer, ensuring comprehensive coverage across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Blundell, who spearheaded BYD's presence in the UK's automotive sector, highlighted the company's commitment to growth, with plans to hire around 100 additional staff in the coming months.

Adopting a wholesale retail model, BYD maintains a substantial inventory to facilitate prompt deliveries, with Blundell citing a typical lead time of two weeks from order placement to delivery. The company has already introduced electric vehicles like the Atto 3, Dolphin, and Seal in the UK market, with plans to also bring the Seal U SUV as its inaugural hybrid offering. Blundell reiterated that selling hybrids aligns with BYD's ambition to establish itself as a mainstream volume brand.