Denza plans to enter Europe with Z9 GT despite EU sanctions

Denza is pushing forward with a planned European expansion in the face of fresh EU import tariffs on Chinese EVs.

Speaking exclusively to Autocar, European product boss Yi Sun said parent company BYD was in “discussions with potential dealers” to introduce the 14-year-old EV brand to the region.

The investment for this introduction is significant, he said. Denza is being positioned as a rival to the likes of Audi and BMW.

“BYD wants to be global, so we have to present ourselves in all major markets,” Sun added.

In line with its global aspirations, Denza recently began expanding in markets outside of mainland China, including the right-hand-drive Hong Kong market. 

Founded as a 50:50 joint venture between BYD and Mercedes-Benz in 2010, Denza originally occupied volume markets but was relaunched with a more upmarket focus in 2022, with BYD taking 90% ownership.

The existing Denza line-up consists of three models, the N7 SUV, N8 SUV and D9 MPV, all offered with plug-in hybrid and electric drivetrains in China.

The first Denza model planned for sale in Europe is the new Z9 GT shooting brake. Timing for a start of sales is yet to be officially announced, however.

Revealed at the Beijing motor show in April, the 5180m-long Z9 GT is planned to act as a technological flagship for an expanded range of global Denza models.

In top spec, it has a tri-motor powertrain, with one motor up front and two at the rear, developing a combined 952bhp and 1018lb ft of torque. Its 0-62mph time is claimed to be just 2.9sec.

Secrecy surrounds details of other Denzas earmarked for Europe, although Autocar has been told that plans are afoot to rebadge the Fangchengbao Bao 5 off-roader as a Denza for sales outside of China.

“We think the Bao 5 would be a good fit for Denza in Europe,” said Sun, who formerly headed product planning and strategy within Ford’s international operations, adding, “we want to put everything under one luxury brand”.

Sun said BYD’s increasing focus on Europe has led to it bolstering its local R&D to better equip new cars with characteristics sought by European buyers.

“Engineering is led by our team in China, but you need input from the satellite operation like we have in Europe,” he explained. 

“There has been a change in the BYD development system. Up until now, our models have been developed largely to a Chinese standard, but now all future models are being developed to a global standard. This saves time in engineering efficiency for all markets, including Europe.”

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