BYD E-Seed electric concept car: China does sexy

Published: 17 April 2019

► New electric supercar concept from BYD
Ex-Audi designer led design team
BYD’s E-Seed GT signals new 'dragon face'

The guy behind the Alfa 8C and a host of recent Audis is now at BYD, where he wowed the 2019 Shanghai motor show with a dramatic electric supercar concept. Former Audi and Italdesign design boss (and Alfa 8C designer) Wolfgang Egger has been steering the design direction of Chinese EV firm Build Your Dreams (BYD) since late 2016 as its global design director.

The most accomplished result since then is surely the classically proportioned gullwing supercar concept shown in China this week. The E-Seed GT is of course a little removed from BYD’s more workaday electric SUVs and crossovers, but it certainly shows ambition.

BYD E-Seed: made with a little help from ex-Ferrari and Merc men too 

Yep, ex-Ferrari man JuanMa Lopez has become BYD’s global exterior design director and Michele Jauch-Paganetti – who formerly ran the specialist  interior studio of Mercedes in Lake Como, Italy, before it shut down – has appropriately become BYD’s global interior design director.

BYD design team

Sounds like a veritable supergroup, and in many ways it is. Certainly BYD is promoting the new team hard through multiple prints in hero mode on various walls of its very large exhibition show stand. 

Okay, so what is the ‘dragon face’ connection?

Believe BYD’s hype machine and it will tell you the E-Seed GT has various dragon-influenced details from ‘headlights resembling “dragon whiskers”, a “dragon ridge” on its roof, tail and seats and “dragon-scale” features on its door panels.’ In summary it’s very dragon-y.

To the more casual observer, it looks like a very smart supercar with great proportions and a maturity in the surfacing you don’t always see from Chinese carmakers.

BYD E-Seed GT electric supercar at 2019 Shanghai motor show

Judging by the sketches – the car was roped off when we visited so we couldn’t see inside, or know if indeed anything was inside on the full-scale model – the interior also looked on point, with three screens, a floating centre console and a retractable steering wheel.  

It’s easy to like a gullwing supercar, but what’s its point?

That we’re less clear about, although BYD’s chairman did mention something about ‘China’s new energy vehicles having entered the “fast lane,”’ so it’s probable a symbol of that. We did see Egger briefly but he was being whisked between interviews so we didn’t get to find out more.

What we do know is that BYD claims to have been the top-selling global EV maker for the last four consecutive years, that it is also a big deal in trains and an even bigger one in battery making and that it helps creates fully-electric buses too, some of which have been on Transport for London’s fleet for some time.

BYD has a hand in designing London's full electric buses on routes 521, 507, 360 and 153

If you want to ride one, the options are routes 521 and 507 from Waterloo (above), the 360 from Camberwell and the 153 that runs through the City of London. None of those have dragon-y faces or gull-wing doors though, more’s the pity.

By Guy Bird

Contributor, cultural curator, design commentator