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Exclusive: BYD on Song to the Max in Australia
BYD’s Chinese Song Max people-mover snapped under test in Australia
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27 Jul 2018
THE latest handiwork of former Audi, Lamborghini and Alfa Romeo head designer Wolfgang Egger has been spotted on Australian roads in the shape of Chinese manufacturer BYD’s Song Max people-mover.
The left-hand-drive test vehicle was snapped in Melbourne where it is most likely being put through its paces by transmission engineers from Chinese-owned DSI International which has its technical centre with a staff of about 60 in the outer eastern suburb of Springvale.
Launched in China in September last year, the seven-seat Song Max is now one of BYD’s top sellers and one of the most popular MPVs in the world’s biggest motor market, notching up as many as 15,000 sales a month so far in 2018.
The Song Max was the first BYD production vehicle to be created under the guidance of German-born former Audi Group head of design, Mr Egger, who is best known for three creations – the Audi Q7 SUV and R8 sportscar, and in a stint in Italy, the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
BYD lured Mr Egger to its Chinese stable of auto brands in 2016. His first offering, the BYD M5 people-mover, came at the 2017 Shanghai motor show, but that went into production as the Song Max about six months later.
Mr Egger followed up with a large Q7-sized electric SUV concept, the Dynasty, at a BYD Auto gala in June last year.
BYD Auto was founded in 2003 as a spin-off of China’s biggest lithium-ion battery producer, BYD Electronics, with the objective of growing it into China’s leading EV producer.
As a matter of practicality, BYD has also developed internal combustion engine vehicles, one of which is the Song Max with a 1.5-litre petrol turbo engine producing 116kW of power and 240Nm of torque.
The engine is mated with a choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, most likely DSI units made in China from Australian-developed technology.
The presence of the vehicle in Australia points to a development of the powertrain.
DSI supplies transmissions and other driveline components to a wide range of Chinese vehicle manufacturers, including Geely, Bisu, Beijing Auto, Brilliance Auto, Lifan Motors, Soueast Motor and SWM Motors.
Backed by American billionaire Warren Buffett whose Berkshire Hathaway company has a quarter share of the BYD parent company, BYD Auto has been developing petrol, petrol-electric hybrid and full EV powertrains for its range that includes sedans, SUVs and people-movers.
The company hinted at the Song Max launch that more powertrains would be in the offing for the vehicle, including a hybrid combining the 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor – or perhaps two electric motors on the rear axle – and six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The Victorian-registered vehicle in our pictures has no visible exhaust pipe tips, but an exhaust muffler can be seen peeking out from under the rear skirt.
Instead of a BYD badge, the main chrome-and-black logo on the back of the vehicle is the Chinese symbol for Song, which has become a sub-brand for BYD after originally being launched as a single SUV model.
The red TID badge on the lower right is applied to a number of BYD products, referring to the turbo direct-injected four-cylinder petrol engine and not diesel as some might conclude.
As far as GoAuto is aware, BYD is not planning to launch such products in Australia in the immediate future.
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