BYD ute spied in Australia

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BYD’s new plug-in hybrid ute has hit the road in Australia in disguise ahead of its unveiling in the coming months, and local launch late next year.

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The upcoming plug-in hybrid dual-cab ute from Chinese electric-car specialist BYD has been spotted testing in Australia ahead of showroom arrivals next year.

Images posted to the BYD EV Owners Australia Facebook group show a left-hand-drive BYD ute prototype testing in Victoria, wearing nothing more than a light camouflage wrap.

As previously reported, the BYD ute is due to be unveiled in China in the coming months, ahead of the opening of Australian order books due in the first half of 2024, and first deliveries by the end of the year – pending any delays.

It is planned to launch first as a plug-in hybrid – estimated to be capable of up to 100km of electric driving range, and up to 1200km in hybrid mode – ahead of an electric-only version in 2025.

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The vehicle spied does not wear blue triangular ‘EV’ stickers on its numberplates, which are required for hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles in Victoria, where this prototype was registered.

However, it appears BYD engineers have forgotten to fit the stickers – given the Chinese car giant stopped manufacturing vehicles without hybrid or electric power nearly two years ago, and there will not be a petrol or diesel-only version of the new ute.

The new spy photos give little about the BYD ute’s design away that had not already been seen in similar prototype sightings overseas, patent images filed in China, and digital illustrations for Drive by Avarvarii.

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BYD ute illustrations by Avarvarii, based on patent images.

Few technical details have been published to date, but it is expected the ‘DM-i’ plug-in hybrid will combine a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a large battery pack and an electric motor.

It is estimated to deliver up to 100km of claimed driving range on electric power, or up to 1200km with the petrol engine and electric motor working together.

In other BYD hybrid four-wheel-drives, this system develops up to 500kW, but it remains to be seen if the new ute is this powerful.

Prices are expected to start from less than $100,000 plus on-road costs for the plug-in hybrid, though the electric version due in 2025 may be more expensive.

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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