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BYD Dolphin Mini screenshot.png
BYD Dolphin Mini base model retails for $21,000, offers 190 miles of range.

BYD Seagull Lands in Mexico as Dolphin Mini

BYD’s battery-electric compact hatchback enters Mexican market, but the Chinese automaker says it isn’t bringing the inexpensive model north of the border – yet.

BYD Mexico launches its long-awaited Seagull 5-door compact BEV hatch in Mexico under the Dolphin Mini badge that the Chinese company has used for its export models.

The climactic moment of the launch is the price point: MXN$358,800 ($21,000) for the base model that offers 190 miles (305 km) of range, and MXN$398,800 ($23,000) for the longer-range Dolphin Mini Plus, which is calculated at 252 miles (405 km). Both Mini models use BYD’s latest 3.0 platform and the automaker’s proprietary Blade lithium-iron-phosphate battery.

Per Mexican law, sticker prices must include a 16% federal value-added tax, and subsidies do not currently exist for BEVs in Mexico, although they are imported tariff-free.

BYD has said it has no plans to export the Dolphin Mini to the U.S. – at least for now.

BYD Dolphin Mini cockpit.jpg

Dolphin Mini accessories include karaoke microphone carried in center console.

With sharp exterior lines that evoke a flashier version of a Honda Fit, the Dolphin Mini looks to compete as much with internal-combustion-engine rivals such as the Suzuki Swift or Mazda 2 as with any other BEVs. At 149 ins. (3,780 mm), it’s 3.2 ins. (80 mm) shorter than a 3-door Mini Cooper. BYD says the Dolphin Mini is the least-expensive BEV in Mexico, with China’s JAC advertising its 10X hatchback for MXN$439,000 ($25,720), which is also the list price of the electric version of the Renault Kwid.

The build quality feels decent, and doors have a heft to them not found in other econo-hatches. The 2-toned Seagull-inspired dashboard is functional and simple, with a dash-mounted transmission toggle-switch that is intuitive within seconds of use. The 10.1-in. (26-cm) screen automatically adjusts for vertical or horizontal viewing and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. The car uses a traditional two-pedal brake/accelerator system that eliminates any need to readjust driving reflexes.

Of the two versions offered in Mexico, aside from the range difference, the Mini Plus offers wireless cell phone charging in a center console and eight airbags vs. six for the base model. Both models have rearview cameras with three sensors, as well as power windows and power seats.

Driving tests included a slalom, acceleration/braking, simulated parking maneuvering and a tight oval. The 55-kw engine can go from 0-31 mph (0-50 km/h) in under 5.0 seconds, a reasonably peppy option for the econo-hatches. Rear disc brakes and stability control, combined with the low weight concentration typical of BEVs, made the slalom adequate for the segment.

BYD México General Director Jorge Vallejo insists the company can maintain its sales goal of 50,000 units for all BYD models in Mexico in 2024, despite selling fewer than 3,000 in the last three months of last year. He says the combination of a growing sales network and more models, including plug-in hybrids, means strong month-to-month increases. Looking forward, he expects about 65% of total BYD sales to be from PHEVs, vs. 35% from BEVs.



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