BYD Launches in SA with Great Ambitions
When discussing Chinese car manufacturers in South Africa, BYD, or 'Build Your Dreams,' is the latest marque to join the local passenger car market already home to Chery, Haval, and BAIC.
A little digging into the background of the Chinese marque reveals that it's been in business since 2003, with its first electric car only introduced in 2008.
In contrast to the Chinese counterparts mentioned earlier, BYD is fully vested in EVs. This is not surprising, considering that its subsidiary, BYD Company, was established in 1995 as a battery manufacturer.
Though it still has to cement its reputation locally, the company is one of the biggest, especially in China, after selling about 641,000 EV units in the first half of 2022, thus becoming Tesla's biggest competitor.
The launch of the BYD brand in Mzansi comes with the introduction of the Atto 3 fully-electric model as part of the company's global expansion strategy.
What is the Atto 3? You wonder. Well, it's a C-segment battery-electric compact crossover SUV built on the brand's e-Platform 3.0 and measures 4,455 mm in length, 1,875 mm in width, and stands 1.615 mm tall. Its wheelbase is rated at 2,720 mm, thus making it a margin smaller than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
While Chinese EVs tend to look slightly meh, the new BYD Atto 3 is quite a stunner, thanks to a sleek front end complemented by slim headlights and a clean design that also continues at the rear courtesy of slim rear light clusters conjoined by a light bar.
It rides on 18-inch alloy wheels with various exterior goodies like roof rails, panoramic sunroof, and electric folding mirrors.
The interior, on the other hand, looks interesting and adds a bit of modern flair to it. Its features include a 12.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a 5.0-inch instrument cluster, a wireless charging pad, an 8-speaker sound system, a multifunction steering wheel, keyless entry, and electrically-adjustable front seats.
Its 3.3kW Vehicle-To-Load system remains a draw as it can power household appliances when load shedding hits.
Powering the Atto 3 is a standard 50.1kWh or 60.4kWh battery pack, with a range of up to 320km and 420km in the case of the extended-range variant. Power is rated at 150kW, and 310Nm that's sent to the front axle. In terms of acceleration, the Atto 3 can sprint to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds.
Buyers can recharge the Atto 3 via the Type 2 AC 70kW and Type 2 CCS 80kW fast charger for the extended range. It's worth mentioning that the 80kW charger can recharge the battery pack from 20% to 80% in 45 minutes.
Priced at R768,000 for the standard variant and R835,000 for the extended-range model, the Atto 3 has now become the second most affordable EV in Mzansi, with the yet-to-be-launched GWM Ora slotting just below it with a price tag of R716,900.
The Atto 3 comes with a 5-year/100,000km warranty and a 5-year/100,000km service plan.
According to BYD SA, the brand is committed to innovation and sustainability, with its primary goals including expansion into new markets globally.
That said, the brand promises to bring exciting and impactful developments soon.
As new as it is in the country, BYD says it will continue to build local sales and service systems for enhanced user experience. In the future, the brand plans to introduce sedans, SUVs and buses while also aiming to establish a local assembly plant and service network.
BYD SA has confirmed that the first batch of the Atto 3 will be delivered to some of its eight planned dealerships by September.
A Great Move?
Frankly, yes, Chinese makers have risen to the challenge in South Africa by offering value-for-money products at a tempting price range. With the sticker price that the Atto 3 boasts, it positions itself as a budget-friendly choice that packs a punch of features.