BYD Seagull: a small electric car with a sodium-ion battery

When naming its new electric vehicles, BYD is now inspired by the (aquatic) animal world. It started with Seals, but there will also be Dolphins and Sea Lions soon. At the Shanghai Auto Show, which will be held from April 18 to 27, 2023, this so-called Sea Series will grow by a quarter: Seagull will be joined by seagull. This gave the Mercedes 300 SL its nickname in English-speaking countries, because its open doors are reminiscent of the spread wings of a seagull (“gullwing doors”).

Of course, the Seagull, which is the basis of BYD’s E-Platform 3.0, cannot afford such extravagance. The small electric car has four standard doors and a large rear hatch. It is 3.78 meters long, 1.72 meters wide and 1.54 meters high and has a wheelbase of 2.50 meters. Standard specifications of the small car that make up the Seagull BYD electric car. Dolphin, Seal and Sea Lion sit on it.

And a sodium ion battery?

BYD’s Seagull presents an independent design in which the front and upper sections are short. A large air intake sits on the front apron, which is unusual for an electric car. Equally unusual: the one-handed wiper. Plastic elements are found not only around the wheels, but also on the side skirts and on the C-pillar, which seems to separate the lower part of the body from the roof. The shoulder line bends towards the rear after the B-pillar. A spoiler that has been extended far is placed over the rear end, while the horizontal taillights are joined by a narrow strip of lights.

According to Chinese media reports, BYD wants to offer the Seagull with two engine variants: 55 kW (75 hp) or 75 kW (102 hp). There must be many battery options. The larger one with 38 kilowatt-hours should enable a range of 405 kilometers based on China’s CLTC driving cycle and have lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells. For the small energy storage, BYD specifies 30 kilowatt hours and a range of 305 kilometers. According to Chinese media reports, this is a sodium-ion battery that does not contain cobalt, nickel and lithium raw materials and therefore promises benefits in the issue of cost and environmental impact.

The lowest cockpit

Not much is known about the interior yet. BYD’s Seagull has four seats and two monitors. A small one sits as a driver information display behind the slightly flattened steering wheel. A tablet-sized infotainment touchscreen is located in the center of the dashboard. Between it and the central air vent, BYD places haptic buttons for some important functions.

When exactly the BYD Seagull will circulate to Chinese dealers and if it will eventually come to Europe is still unknown. Chinese market prices are between 80,000 and 100,000 yuan (currently equivalent to 10,600 to 13,300 euros).

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BYD is expanding its electric model range downwards with the Seagull, which will debut at the Shanghai auto show in a few days. If previous rumors are true, China’s Seagull could be the first production car with a sodium-ion battery. Then the novel cell chemistry can show what it can do – and what it can’t.