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China’s BYD challenges Toyota and Nissan in Japan’s compact car market, ET Auto

“The Dolphin” from BYD is eligible for subsidies, potentially reducing its price to 3 million yen. New Delhi: In a move to challenge automakers in Japan, Chinese automaker BYD has unveiled its second model for the Japanese market—a compact electric car named “The Dolphin.” Priced at 3.6 million yen (USD 24,000), BYD’s announcement sent ripples through the automotive industry.

The Dolphin is positioned to compete with domestic offerings of similar size, including the Toyota Yaris, with a starting price of 2.4 million yen for the gasoline version, and Nissan Motor’s Leaf, a top-selling EV in Japan with a 4 million yen sticker price. The Dolphin’s pricing is expected to capture the attention of cost-conscious Japanese consumers.

BYD’s foray into Japan aims to establish a presence in a market traditionally dominated by automotive giants. The company seeks to tap into the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in a country where domestic automakers have sometimes been hesitant to embrace this technology.

Earlier this year, BYD made its debut in Japan with the release of its flagship midsize SUV, the Atto 3, priced at 4.4 million yen. The SUV garnered attention, with approximately 700 units sold to date. Atsuki Tofukuji, President of BYD Auto Japan, expressed confidence in the steady growth of their customer base. BYD has set its sights on becoming the world’s top EV maker this year, a testament to its vision.

“The Dolphin” targets urban drivers seeking a compact and agile car suited to city living. The vehicle has been designed to accommodate condominium parking areas with height restrictions, addressing a common urban challenge. Simultaneously, BYD is eyeing potential demand among rural drivers in search of an efficient second car for daily commutes.

Enhancing safety features, the Japanese version of “The Dolphin” has been retrofitted with a system designed to suppress unintentional acceleration, a concern linked to multiple accidents involving elderly drivers in Japan.

The rising demand for small cars presents an opportunity to boost EV penetration in Japan. Electric vehicle sales accounted for only 2% of the total market in 2022, but the popularity of lightweight minicars, known as “kei cars” in Japan, has been on the rise. These vehicles are celebrated for their affordability and practicality for daily use. According to industry data, kei cars represented 46% of Japan’s EV sales last year, a significant jump from the 3% figure recorded in 2021. Moreover, electric kei cars offer shorter charging times compared to larger counterparts, further driving their appeal.

Government policies aimed at promoting EV adoption have provided support for automakers. “The Dolphin” from BYD is eligible for subsidies, potentially reducing its price to 3 million yen. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry have drafted plans to install 300,000 charging stations by 2030, doubling its previous target for the same year. Additionally, Tokyo’s metropolitan government has increased subsidies for the installation of charging infrastructure and mandated their inclusion in new apartment buildings starting in 2025. These measures are poised to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across Japan, and BYD is positioned to ride this wave of change with “The Dolphin” in the Land of the Rising Sun.byd

  • Published On Sep 20, 2023 at 08:32 PM IST

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