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Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD has set its sights on the European market with plans to launch a range of electric trucks later this year.

BYD Europe said it will launch a full range of battery electric commercial vehicles (BEV) in Europe this year, including a panel van, a yard tractor and 7.5-tonne and 19-tonne rigid distribution trucks.

The move follows BYD’s announcement last week that it has signed a joint venture with Toyota’s commercial and diesel vehicle subsidiary Hino Motors to develop commercial battery electric vehicles.

In a statement BYD Europe announced a “strategy to embark upon the trial introduction of passenger cars in Europe, alongside longer-term plans to bring new BYD LCV and eTruck ranges to the European market".

Announcing its plans to launch the new, full electric second generation BYD ‘Tang’ compact SUV to the Norwegian market, the company added: “Plans are also underway to bring to Europe later this year a full range of battery electric vehicles (BEV) for the commercial vehicle sector, including a panel van, 7.5-tonne and 19-tonne rigid distribution trucks, and a yard tractor.”

The range will include the BYD 19-tonne rigid distribution electric truck.

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Isbrand Ho, MD of BYD Europe, said, “The Norwegian market is the natural choice for BYD to start this trial as we look to expand our EV presence in Europe.

“Norway is the most advanced market in Europe when it comes to the widespread adoption and usage of electric vehicles as well as possessing a comprehensive charging network.

“We will closely evaluate how the market performs, but, in the longer term, it is our aim to expand passenger car sales beyond Norway.”

He added: “We are on track also to introduce BYD eTrucks this year, with a range of full-electric vehicles including a panel van, a 7.5-tonner, a 19-tonner and a yard tractor.”

Asked what the news meant for Europe and the UK, EV expert and former DAF head of aftersales and strategic projects, Dennis Evans said: "If we're talking about the all-electric and not a hybrid version of the BYD then it claims a class-leading range (500+ miles) and a very acceptable 30-minute recharge rate. The 82.8 kw motor also appears to be bigger than a typical Tesla 60-70kwhr.

"BYD have built their reputation as a solid Commercial Vehicle and Passenger Vehicle (Bus) manufacturer with class leading expertise in battery technology in both China and the USA. My own view is that they should pursue a strategy to leverage their expertise in CV and Bus business, exploit the acceleration of Zero Emission Zones across Europe and be the world's biggest provider of batteries to the likes of Mercedes, VW Group, Volvo, Renault etc.

"Don't go into the SUV market where there will be limited short-term volume or profitability - learn the Dyson lesson - and become the Tier supplier of choice for batteries and electric motors. Go after Bosch and ZF not the main OEM's."

Shenzhen-based BYD Company is one of China’s largest privately-owned companies. Launched in 1995 it manufactures cars, vans, trucks and buses, battery-powered bicycles, forklifts, solar panels and rechargeable batteries. It has two major subsidiaries, BYD Automobile and BYD Electronic.

BYD has struggled over the past few quarters after the Chinese electric vehicle market suffered from a cutback in electric vehicle subsidies. However last week the company said it expects a 25% net rise in income for the first quarter of 2020 despite an 85% slump in the first quarter, which is largely due to the pandemic.