BYD leads EV sales surge in Brazil with affordable electric cars

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China’s leading automaker, BYD, is aggressively expanding overseas. After launching its low-cost Seagull EV (Dolphin Mini) in Brazil, starting at around $20,000 (99,800 BRL), BYD is leading the EV sales surge in the country. However, with a new import tax looming, can the Chinese EV maker continue the momentum?

BYD leads EV offensive in Brazil as sales surge

BYD launched the Seagull EV last May. Less than a year on the market, BYD sold over 280,000 Seagull EVs last year in China, topping the popular Dolphin and Yuan Plus (or Atto 3 overseas).

Last month, BYD launched the Seagull, or Dolphin Mini (as it’s called overseas), in Brazil and Mexico. The model is available in two versions, with 186 miles (300 km) or 236 miles (380 km) NEDC range, respectively.

Despite its small size, the vehicle’s “nimble design offers ample interior space,” according to Stella Li, CEO of BYD Americas.

Inside, you will find a 10.1″ rotating infotainment screen compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You also have access to “Hi BYD,” a voice assistant system.

It can also charge from 30% to 80% in 30 minutes using DC fast charge to get you back on the road.

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BYD Dolphin Mini (Seagull) testing in Brazil (Source: BYD)

BYD said the Dolphin Mini was poised to be another “game-changer” following the Dolphin’s success.

The base version starts at $20,000 (99,800 BRL), while the longer-range model starts at $23,200 (114,800 BRL). BYD’s affordable EVs are already making an impact in Brazil.

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BYD Dolphin Mini (Seagull) EV (Source: BYD)

According to data from Brazil’s Ministry of Development, Industry, Trade, and Services (via Reuters), passenger car imports rose by 46.4%. Chinese vehicles alone accounted for 40% as imports surged 450% over last year.

The ministry’s statistics coordinator said, “These purchases from China that are driving the increase in vehicle imports are mainly of electric and hybrid engines.”

Amid the recent import surge, Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is raising import taxes that have been at zero since 2015.

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BYD Dolphin Mini (Seagull) launch in Brazil (Source: BYD)

EV imports are already subject to a 10% tax, enacted in January, which will rise to 18% in July and 35% in July 2026. Hybrids are also subject to a 15% import tax, which rises to 25% in July and 35% in 2026.

According to data from the Brazilian Electric Vehicle Association, Brazil’s electrified car sales soared 145% in the first three months of 2024 to 36,090. BYD led the charge with 14,939 units sold, GWM was second with 5,735, while Toyota placed third with 5,049.

BYD continues expanding overseas, with the Dolphin Mini landing in Chile this week.

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