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Auto Show:  2014 Alt Car Expo And Conference

BYD e6: Santa Monica AltCar Expo

author photo by Josh Sadlier September 2014

What Is It?

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD Auto made a splash at the 2014 Santa Monica AltCar Expo with its BYD e6, an all-electric 40-foot bus that has a range of up to 155 miles and is currently in use on some transit routes in Los Angeles County's Antelope Valley.

From a car shopper's perspective, the company's most significant product is the e6, a long-anticipated electric car for the U.S. market that may finally be nearing production.

The e6 is marketed as "a cross between a sedan and an SUV," though it looks more like a wagon to us. It reminds us of the Ford C-MAX. According to BYD, the e6 has a range of 186 miles on a single charge, easily outpacing every current EV but the Tesla Model S. With a top speed of 87 miles per hour, the e6 should be able to keep up with traffic, too. BYD, however, has only officially measured the e6's acceleration to 60 kilometers per hour, or about 37 mph, recording a leisurely time of 7.69 seconds.

The e6 is motivated for now by a 75-kilowatt electric motor that's paired with a distinctive lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack. To suit American tastes, motors up to 200 kilowatts may be considered. Per usual for an EV, a regenerative braking system uses the e6's kinetic energy in low- or no-throttle situations in order to maintain the battery pack's charge. One highlight of the e6 is its claimed recharging time of just 40 minutes with the company's 100-kilowatt fast-charging cabinet.

Inside, the e6 features a flowing dashboard that's a bit reminiscent of modern Infiniti models, as well as 5-passenger seating and a cargo hold that measures about 16 cu ft. This makes it small for a wagon, but average for a family sedan. Specific features for U.S. models would be determined closer to launch.

Will They Ever Sell It?

That's anyone's guess. BYD has been talking about bringing the e6 to our shores since its 2009 debut at the Detroit Auto Show. The company now has a factory in Lancaster, California, but e6 production would first require a demonstration of U.S.-level crashworthiness (among other things), which hasn't happened yet. Those BYD buses are out and about, though, so it's possible that the e6 won't be too far behind.

Why It's Important

China is itching to get into the lucrative U.S. car market, but it's important for the pioneers to get the essential parts right so they're not dismissed the way Korean automakers were at the beginning. If the BYD e6 does come to market, it will be a very significant moment in the evolution of the Chinese car industry.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
BYD e6: Santa Monica AltCar Expo - Autotrader