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BYD ATTO 3

The world’s largest seller of electric vehicles, and one of only a few companies that exclusively make EVs, Build Your Dreams, or BYD, has officially arrived in South Africa with the launch of its Atto 3 C-Segment SUV.

“Cooling the planet by one degree.” That’s the stated mission of China’s largest maker of all-electric vehicles and the first EV-only importer to South Africa.

Making its debut here are two derivatives of the Atto 3 SUV – the Standard Range and Extended Range – both sporting the same performance figures, yet different size batteries.

At R768,000 for the Standard Range and R835,000 for the Extended Range, the Atto 3 is one of South Africa’s least expensive EVs, standing in third place against rivals the GWM Ora (in second place) and the Volvo EX30 in fourth.

WHAT’S IN A RANGE?

The Atto 3 Standard Range is fitted with a 49.92 kWh battery supplying power to a single motor on the front axle. Generating 150 kW and 310 Nm of torque, it has a claimed top speed of 160 km/h and will accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds, according to BYD. Under ideal circumstances, says BYD, it will reach as far as 345 km (WLTP) before needing a recharge.

The Extended Range boasts a 60.48 kWh battery for a claimed range of 420 km. Interestingly, the Extended Range Atto 3 has a slightly wider track on the front wheels (1,580 mm) than its Standard Range sibling (1,575 mm).

BATTERY OF BATTERIES

BYD comes to market with a unique ‘Blade Battery’ technology that employs lithium-ion phosphate rather than lithium-ion in its batteries. According to the firm, this means batteries are cheaper, more robust and safer, and provide a better range than other batteries.

Charging from a high-capacity charger, the Atto 3 will take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to get from 10 to 80%, although charging from a standard wall socket is also possible, but will take significantly longer.

Setting the Atto 3 apart from its rivals is the ability to power electric household appliances using BYD’s vehicle-to-load (VTOL) system. With 3.3 kW available for this purpose, the Atto 3 can be used for supplemental home power in an emergency, or as a stand-alone power source while you’re out and about.

EXTREMELY SPORTY INTERIOR

Extreme sports inspire the Atto 3 interior design, and both models come fully loaded with a selection of tech and gadgets. The centrepiece is its unique 12.3” swivelling infotainment screen that can be viewed either horizontally or vertically.

There is wireless smartphone charging, an eight-speaker sound system, an electric tailgate, push-button start, a panoramic sunroof, and auto-dimming LED headlights, while the driver is treated to a 5” digital instrument cluster. Heated electric seats covered in artificial leather are also standard.

BYD also takes no prisoners on the safety front, and has included autonomous emergency braking, cross-traffic alert at the rear (also with autonomous emergency braking), blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning (with lane-keep assistance), front collision warning, and adaptive cruise control. 

There are also seven airbags, a 360-degree camera system, and tyre pressure monitoring.

LAST WORD

While we have not yet had the opportunity to drive the Atto 3 – BYD says the first cars will be available from some of their eight planned dealers by September 2023 – initial static quality impressions are good. The Atto 3 is not BYD’s cheapest (or smallest) EV available globally, making it an interesting choice as an initial model in a country where most EVs are still of the premium persuasion. It will likely attract significant attention from first adopters and tech-savvy customers looking to stand out.

BYD ATTO 3ELECTRIC POWERTRAIN
(Battery kWh)
POWER 
(kW)
TORQUE 
(Nm)
TOP SPEED
(km/h)
0-100 KM/H
(seconds)
RANGE 
(WLTP)
PRICE
BYD Atto 3 Standard RangeSingle Electric (49.92 kWh)1503101607.3345R768,000
BYD Atto 3 Extended RangeSingle Electric (60.48 kWh)1503101607.3420R835,000
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