A camouflaged prototype of what appears to be the BYD Seal U SUV has been spied in Australia.
Images shared to the Facebook group Tesla Owners Australia show the Seal U prototype has Victorian licence plates on it, though it’s unclear if the car was actually photographed in Victoria.
The prototype in the photos appears to be a plug-in hybrid version of the Seal U as at the front there are extra grille slats that the all-electric version doesn’t have. There also appears to be an exhaust pipe tucked under the rear bumper.
BYD hasn’t offered a plug-in hybrid vehicle in Australia to date, though its forthcoming ute is understood to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain in addition to an all-electric one.
A spokesperson for local BYD distributor EVDirect has previously said a mid-sized SUV will be “on the product list for sale and delivery in 2024”, but didn’t confirm the exact model and type.
As previously reported, the BYD Seal U is the export name for what’s known as the Song Plus Champion Edition in China. In Europe this model will be electric-only.
In China, the Song Plus DM-i Champion Edition plug-in hybrid is powered by a 1.5-litre engine with an electric motor producing system outputs of 145kW of power and 325Nm.
Depending on the variant, there’s a 18.3kWh and 26.6kWh battery pack. This allows for claimed all-electric ranges of 110km and 150km, respectively, under the more lenient NEDC test cycle.
There are two different all-electric powertrain options in the European Seal U, with a single electric motor producing 150kW paired with a 71.8kWh lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery, and a more powerful single electric motor producing 160kW and paired with a larger 87kWh LFP battery.
The former has a claimed range of 420km according to WLTP testing, and the latter has a claimed range of 500km.
The Seal U isn’t a brand new model, but rather an update of the Song Plus that debuted back in 2020.
It’s built on the company’s e-platform 3.0, which underpins models like the Seal, Dolphin and Atto 3.
It measures in at 4785mm, 1890mm wide, and 1660mm tall with a 2765mm wheelbase, almost identical in footprint to the Hyundai Santa Fe.
It slots in under the older Tang electric SUV offered in Europe, which measures 4870mm long.
As previously reported, BYD is bringing four new electric vehicles (EVs) to Australia in the next 12 months.
These four EVs include the Dolphin hatchback, Seal sedan, previously confirmed “muscle ute”, as well as the unspecified SUV.
Deliveries of the Dolphin will begin in the fourth quarter of this year, and BYD’s local distributor EVDirect says the Seal will come soon but hasn’t confirmed specific launch timing.
“We’re excited to be bringing the types of cars Australians want,” Luke Todd, CEO of BYD’s local distributor EVDirect, told CarExpert.
According to the company’s Australian distributor, the plan is for BYD to achieve 50,000 annual sales here over the next few years, supported by an expansion of its EV line-up – including sports sedans and utes.
MORE: Is this BYD’s next electric SUV for Australia?