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The electric vehicle (EV) market yielded some unlikely competition for the legacy automakers of the world. To most Americans, Tesla is the undisputed titan of the EV market. However, not all of Tesla’s competition resides in the domestic or legacy marques; BYD has its sights set on expanding its reach right into Tesla’s backyard. That’s right; the BYD Seal is in North America, and it wants to dethrone the Tesla Model 3.

The BYD Seal is bringing the big guns to the EV fight

A silver blue BYD Seal shows off its rear-end styling.
BYD Seal | BYD

BYD’s diminutive four-door EV, the Seal, is in the North American market. That should have the Tesla Model 3 worried.

ModelSingle-charge rangeStarting price
Seal RWD285 miles$44,800
Model 3 RWD272 miles$38,990
Seal AWD323 miles$52,000
Model 3 Long Range333 miles$45,990

However, the advantages of the North American-market BYD Seal depend on the trim level. For instance, the entry-level 61.44 kilowatt-hour (kWh) rear-wheel drive (RWD) Seal has a 13-mile single charge advantage over the base Model 3 RWD. However, the dual-motor Model 3 Long Range boasts an extra 10 miles over the AWD Seal. 

Unfortunately, originality isn’t in the cards for the Seal. At a glance, the Seal’s front end is a blatant facsimile of the Hyundai IONIQ 6, another sloping, aero-friendly electric car on the North American market. And why wouldn’t BYD rip off Hyundai’s design? 

The IONIQ 6 has a 0.21 drag coefficient, one of the most slippery values on the current market. It’s enough to allow the IONIQ 6 SE to bag a claimed 361 miles on a single charge. 

Further, a cursory investigation into BYD’s online configurator for the Seal reveals another pretty obvious copy. Specifically, a glance at Tesla’s display pages for its vehicle lineup shows a similar layout. Still, beyond the obvious knockoffs, the Seal could put the squeeze on the Model 3 in the North American market. 

While the BYD Seal has the Tesla Model 3 in its sights, it’s not going to beat it in the United States– yet

The BYD Seal might be in the North American market, but it’s not going to challenge the Tesla Model 3 in the U.S. quite yet. The Seal is the second of the brand’s “Ocean Series” to make landfall in Mexico, following the Dolphin. 

However, the Mexican market is just the latest of the Seal’s exploits. The electrified automaker sells its vehicles in over 70 countries. Tesla should keep an eye on the oceanic-monikered EV; it could be honing in on the Model 3’s market.


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