Build Your Dreams (BYD) is set to launch its first mass market car in Australia, the BYD Atto 3 (known as the Yuan Plus in China).
While the Shenzhen-based vehicle and battery maker already sold 50 examples of its BYD T3 light commercial van and 15 examples of its e6 people mover in 2021 – via distributor EVDirect.com.au (run by Nexport and part of the TrueGreen Group investment fund) – both EVs have since been discontinued for the foreseeable future in Australia.
Enter the BYD Atto 3 small electric SUV. The second-generation bespoke electric crossover is part of the distributor’s four-to-six model product offensive within two years in Australia.
It goes head-to-head with the MG ZS EV, Kia Niro EV, and Hyundai Kona Electric – but with an expected price tag of below $40,000.
With Nexport expected to announce full details in late February for a launch in June, what should we expect from Australia’s cheapest new electric SUV?
Size and design
Based on BYD’s dedicated ‘e-Platform 3.0’ architecture, the Atto 3 measures in at 4455mm long, 1875mm wide, and 1615mm tall with a 2720mm wheelbase.
Boot capacity hasn’t been detailed yet.
This means the Atto 3 is on the upper end of the small SUV class, sized similar to petrol-powered crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, and Kia Seltos.
Outside, it uses BYD's latest ‘Dragon Face 3.0’ design language, with a slightly sloping roofline, slim ‘dragon crystal’ LED headlights, and aerodynamic wheel covers.
Inside, the Atto 3 features a quirky musical ‘Rhythm’ theme with rounded elements and lines,red strings on the door cards to mimic guitar strings, and a centre console divider with storage underneath.
Range and powertrain
While Nexport should confirm full local specifications in late February, we do know that the BYD crossover is sold with two battery options in its home market thanks to a filing to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Dubbed the Yuan Plus standard range, it uses a 50.12kWh (gross) lithium-ion-phosphate (LFP) battery, mated with a single permanent magnet synchronous motor producing 150kW of power and 310Nm of torque sent exclusively to the front wheels.
BYD claims an impressive 122 Wh/km energy consumption for a driving range of up to 430km on the unrealistic and lenient NEDC testing cycle. It has a kerb weight of 1615kg.
Meanwhile, the Yuan Plus extended range has a larger 60.48kWh (gross) LFP battery pack, with the same front-wheel drive electric motor producing 150kW/310Nm.
The bigger pack enables the crossover to travel up to 510km (NEDC) on a single charge, though energy consumption is up 125kWh/km and weighs in heavier at 1690kg.
Acceleration times haven’t been confirmed yet.
As with all BYD electric cars, it uses the company’s in-house ‘Blade Battery’ that’s said to be stronger, safer, and 50 per cent more energy dense than conventional LFP block batteries. Likewise, being LFP-made, the pack is free from the unsustainable cobalt rare earth material and can be regularly charged to 100 per cent without significant degradation concerns.
The Atto 3 offers up to 800-volt charging capabilities to top-up at up to 350kW ultra-rapid speeds.
Safety and technology
The interior of the new BYD small SUV is dominated by a 15.6-inch horizontal tablet-style infotainment system, a small driver’s digital instrument cluster, and ambient lighting.
While full details are yet to be revealed, expect a full gamut of active safety technologies including auto emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, and automatic steering assist.
TrueGreen Mobility CEO Luke Todd previously told The Driven that the BYD’s first high-volume model will be built to Australian specs and safety standards, claiming to be capable of achieving a 5-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and passing the “Aussie tough test”.
It’s worth noting that to obtain a 5-star ANCAP rating under the latest testing standards, vehicles will need to feature AEB with junction assist and a centre airbag, as well as passing strict independent crash and safety technology test thresholds.
Pictured: BYD Atto 3 Australian test vehicle in China, via The Driven
Price and models
Full local pricing and model grades will be announced around late February, with the pre-order books to open at the same time, and customer deliveries expected from June 2022.
Mr Todd has previously suggested there would likely be two models – an entry-level with less equipment and a fully-loaded flagship.
In China, the BYD Atto 3 will be released in March with four variants, starting from ¥132,800 (A$29,300) to ¥152,800 (A$33,700).
We expect BYD’s newest crossover will be priced below $40,000 before on-road costs and state incentives.
That will make it Australia’s most affordable EV to date, undercutting the MG ZS EV at $44,990 drive-away, which is about to be superseded by a facelifted model later this year.
Like Honda, Tesla and Cupra car brands, Nexport will adopt a direct-to-consumer model, meaning guaranteed fixed pricing sold exclusively via its EVDirect website.
The company is also readying a four-level BYD ‘Experience Centre’ showroom in Woolloomooloo, Sydney due in late February. It also ‘hopes’ test drives will be available through ‘Experience Partners’ in major capital cities.
Warranty and servicing
While official details are yet to be disclosed, Mr Todd has said BYD’s will come with a warranty that will ‘set new standards in the industry’.
In December, EVDirect.com.au (run by Nexport) announced its partnership with independent mechanic mycar Tyre and Auto (formerly Kmart Tyre and Auto) to deliver and service all new BYDs.
While it has a network of 275 centres across Australia, it’s initially starting with eight select locations featuring dedicated service bays for EVs and specially trained technicians for BYD vehicles.
When mass deliveries start for the Atto 3 SUV in June, it’s promised to expand to 30 mycar locations by then and will grow further over time.
Figures by Danny Thai
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