The BYD Yuan UP Is Tesla's Biggest Challenge In China Yet

Tesla is the best-selling EV brand on the planet. However, that title’s been under threat lately, especially after Q3’s results. Chinese automaker BYD was a mere 3,000 cars from catching Tesla. Not content to rest on its laurels, the automaker plans on releasing more models, at more price points to capture the ever-fragmented number of EV buyers both inside and outside of China.

The BYD Yuan UP might be just what the brand needs to close that gap. Or, even send the brand way past Tesla.

As originally reported by CarNewsChina, photos of the Yuan UP leaked in documents from the country’s Ministry of Information Technology. That agency is the last stop in the homologation process for cars to be sold in China. It’s not ideal for the automakers, but it’s great for the car folks—it allows us to see the final designs and specifications of some vehicles before they’re even on sale. 

The BYD Yuan UP is a small EV, about 4.3m long, or about 169 inches. That’s, give or take, about the same size as a Chevrolet Trax. Power comes from a single motor, producing either 93 or 174 horsepower. It’s all standard Chinese market EV stuff.

More importantly, this Yuan UP looks to share at least its base model motor with the smash-hit BYD Dolphin. Considering its somewhat budget appearance, the Yuan UP looks to be the SUV-styled counterpart to the fast-selling Dolphin as well as the BYD Seagull. Sure, it’s not exactly a challenge to the more upscale Model Y and Model X, but that’s not the point here. 

BYD Yuan UP 2

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that SUV-shaped things are absolutely taking off in every part of the world, especially on the compact side of things. Also, BYD’s Dolphin and Seagull have been wildly successful; BYD introduced the Seagull in March of this year, and it has already produced more than 200,000 this year. Likewise, BYD has manufactured more than 500,000 Dolphins – both of those cars sell like gangbusters, despite being distinctly car-shaped EVs.

It looks like the BYD Yuan UP could start at a price of around $14,000, that’s ahead of the roughly $11,000 BYD Seagull, but below the $16,000 price of the Dolphin. Given how much everyone loves SUVs, the Yuan UP is primed to take China’s EV market, and possibly the rest of the world, by storm. If the Yuan UP sells in the same way the Seagull and Dolphin do, then Tesla’s title as the best-selling EV maker could be as good as gone.