BYD: The Underdog Taking on Tesla with Thoughtful Design

Reviving innovation: BYD's fresh approach to design challenges Tesla's stale lineup and gloomy outlook

BYD: The Underdog Taking on Tesla with Thoughtful Design
The BYD Seal. Source: Auto Express

Is Tesla's vehicle lineup becoming stale?

While they've long dominated the electric vehicle market, captivating consumers with their sleek designs and advanced technology, there are signs that all is not what it could be at Tesla.

Case in point: The Cybertruck. If consumers are starting to think the lineup at Tesla is stale, the angular behemoth isn't going to help.

Tesla Has a Design Problem
It seems the Cybertruck would be better suited within the world of 90s video game Carmageddon than downtown LA.

Fundamental to this: their approach to design is showing its limitations. As if that wasn't enough, a new competitor has arrived on the block, and to the surprise of many, they know a thing or two about what makes a good car drive and look good.

BYD, a Chinese company, is not only impressing with its technology but also with its keen focus on vehicle design—both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional. BYD is seriously gearing up to rival other manufacturers, but can they capitalise while the mood music at Tesla is gloomy?

The Wolfgang Egger Influence

Wolfgang Egger, a renowned German automobile designer with experience at Audi and Alfa Romeo, has been central to BYD's design transformation.

Since joining BYD in 2016, Egger has infused the brand with a sophisticated European style, ensuring that BYD’s vehicles are not only carefully considered experiences but also visually appealing.

In 2019, BYD opened its international design center in Shenzhen, China, overseen by even more industry veterans such as Global Exterior Design Director JuanMa Lopez, and Global Interior Design Director Michele Jauch-Paganetti.

Alfa Romeo's 8C Is a Rare & Expensive Future Classic | Hypebeast
Egger oversaw the design of the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. Source: HypeBeast

Their approach perfectly balances style and usability, making BYD cars attractive and practical. Egger himself has even been quoted as saying, "As a designer, you have more room to manoeuvre in a Chinese company."

And that certainly appears to be the case with BYD.

His influence hasn't gone unnoticed in the automotive press either, with Auto Express suitably impressed with the Seal model, recently introduced to UK markets. "A great balance of high-end technology with the excellent quality materials expected of a premium car."

They awarded it 4.5 out of 5 for interior, design and technology.

Quite frankly, as a new car manufacturer in many markets, they're knocking it out of the park, and that has certain car manufacturers looking more intently in their rearview mirrors.

Balancing Looks and Functionality

Egger’s philosophy emphasises creating vehicles that are enjoyable to see and use. The latest BYD models showcase sleek lines, bold grilles, and futuristic lighting that can certainly compete, and even surpass, Tesla's designs.

Most important of all is that they mix futuristic minimalism with the functionality demanded by drivers today for safe and enjoyable experiences. Physical buttons, for instance, aren't neglected for the sake of making an entirely clean dashboard.

BYD HAN: Sleek and sporty sedan | BYD Europe
The interior of the BYD Han is minimalist, but not to the point of removing indicator stalks. Source: BYD

BYD truly stands out with its attention to the finer details.

For instance, the interior of the BYD Han, one of the company's flagship electric sedans, is a perfect blend of high-quality materials and ergonomic design. Exactly what you'd expect from a flagship car.

Compare that to consistent reports that Tesla's interiors are often cited as subpar, then you have to ask yourself exactly what type of experience you want when buying a new EV.

Thoughtful Details That Enhance Experience

While impressive exteriors and comfortable interiors are crucial, it’s the small, thoughtful touches that elevate the driving experience.

BYD focuses on identifying and addressing minor annoyances that can affect car owners over time. For example, the placement of cup holders and storage compartments in BYD vehicles is based on extensive user feedback, ensuring they’re exactly where you need them to be.

The Audi e-tron GT concept | Audi MediaCenter
Another Egger banger, the Audi E-Tron Concept. His last concept outside of BYD before joining them. Source: Audi

Compare that to the design ethos at Tesla, most of which appears to be dictated by an (allegedly) evermore ketamine-infused Elon Musk, and you can see that eventually, the democratisation of design will win over customers in the long run.

Additionally, BYD emphasises cabin noise reduction.

Through advanced engineering and high-quality insulation, BYD cars offer a quiet driving environment, free from the noises that can disturb a peaceful ride. What could have been seen as an opportunity for car enthusiasts to mock another Chinese endeavour is turning into a nightmare for more established car manufacturers.

BYD is serious about its ambitions and is poised to challenge Tesla's dominance. Whether they can compete with Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz remains to be seen.

BYD is also heavily investing in autonomous driving technology and smart connectivity features. These advancements promise to make driving safer and more convenient, ensuring that BYD vehicles remain at the forefront of automotive innovation, something that Tesla has historically tried to achieve (and failed) with their FSD capabilities.

BYD’s strategy includes expanding its presence in key global markets, such as Europe and North America.

With each new market entry, BYD brings its unique blend of design excellence and technological prowess, winning over customers who might have previously been loyal to other brands.

In the battle for electric vehicle dominance, BYD is proving to be a strong contender against Tesla. By understanding the critical role of vehicle design—not just in terms of aesthetics but also in addressing the small details that enhance daily driving—BYD is carving out a significant niche for itself.

Wolfgang Egger’s influence, combined with BYD’s relentless focus on user-centric innovation, is setting a new standard for what an electric vehicle can be.

As BYD continues to expand and innovate, it’s clear that they’re not just building alternatives; they’re building experiences that people want first and foremost. And in doing so, they’re making sure that those experiences come with thoughtful design, useful features, and an unwavering commitment to quality—qualities that might just make the difference in the electric vehicle race.

Tesla, watch out; the underdog is on the rise.