BYD is known for electric cars but this year’s flagship model is the S7, a gasoline-powered SUV. This is China’s Year of the SUV. Whatever their specialties used to be, automakers ranging from global brands to China’s ambitious rookies are scrambling to cash in on the explosive popularity of sport utility vehicles.
The SUV boom clashes with Beijing’s efforts to push automakers to develop electric cars and to sell smaller vehicles to help curb smog and the demand for imported oil. But the SUV’s image of safety appeals to prosperous Chinese drivers who face chaotic city streets, while electrics from BYD and other producers struggle to attract buyers.