As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true, then we think Nissan should be particularly touched by the latest vehicle rumoured to debut at this year’s Bejing Auto Show in April.
According to China Car Times, BYD has just finished development of the M3, a vehicle which looks like it might be offered in either six-seat MPV format or box-panel van.
What’s this got to do with electric cars, we hear you ask? Well firstly, the M3 bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nissan NV200, Nissan’s multi-purpose platform which is offered in panel van, MPV and taxi cab variants. Nissan has even made a special ‘London Cab’ variant of the NV200 for duties as an iconic London Black Cab, which it plans to offer to customers with a choice of gasoline or electric drivetrain.
Copying the looks of another car isn’t that unusual in China, but what has got our attention is the suggestion that BYD isn’t stopping with just the NV200’s design aesthetic. It wants to replicate its drivetrain options too.
Like the Nissan original, the M3 will reportedly come with a 1.5 litre gasoline engine as standard, but BYD is rumoured to be considering an all-electric variant of the vehicle using the powertrain and battery pack from its BYD e6 crossover.
Also likely, Chinese sites report, is the plugin hybrid drivetrain found in BYD’s recently launched Qin sedan, although we should point out at this stage that BYD has yet to officially confirm any of its drivetrain options for the M3.
We should also note that while Nissan’s outward design is being clearly
copied pastiched by BYD, we suspect there won’t be any similarities between Nissan’s e-NV200 and a possible all-electric BYD M3.
That’s because the e-NV200 is based on Nissan LEAF drivetrain technology, while BYD would likely use its e6 drivetrain in an all-electric M3. Having driving both the LEAF and the e6, we can say for sure that there are no similarities between how they drive, so we don’t think the M3 will impact on Nissan’s chances of bringing an all-electric variant of the NV200 to China through its ongoing venture with Dongfeng automotive group.
We’ll know more about BYD’s plans for the M3 after the Bejing Auto Show, but until then, we think one thing is clear: demand for larger plug-in vehicles is on the rise.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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