BYD, the Chinese automaker, has finally opened its mass order books in Australia after months of delays – but not for the “sub-$35,000” electric hatchback that had been promised.
The new Atto 3 compact SUV – marketed in China as the ‘Yuan Plus’ – starts at $44,381 before on-road for the entry-level configuration, with customer deliveries set to begin in July 2022, according to local distributor Nexport (approximately five months from today).
While that price does not make the BYD Australia’s cheapest electric vehicle outright, it is now second in all states except Tasmania, behind only the $44,990 drive-away MG ZS EV (where low stamp duty and registration charges put it exactly on par with the MG in the traffic).
Unlike its direct competitors, however, the BYD is only available for purchase online, and pricing is not adjustable through a dealership.
On EVDirect.com.au, interested customers can currently book a vehicle with a fully refundable $1000 deposit. The sale will not be completed until the automobiles arrive, and the listed pricing is “subject to change,” according to the fine print.
All current display examples of the Atto 3 in Australia were produced in left-hand drive for the Chinese market, preventing local journalists and potential consumers from evaluating the vehicle.
Despite the fact that it has yet to import a registrable example of its new model and has no prior experience selling passenger cars in Australia, importer Nexport insists it has “full factory backing” to construct 1500 automobiles with the steering wheel on the correct side within the next five months.
The BYD E6 people mover and T3 vehicle were previously imported by Nexport, but only 65 examples of each model were ever sold to customers.
It boasts that it would import 15,000 automobiles by the end of 2022, implying that it hopes to outsell Tesla in its first year on the market.
A single electric motor delivers 150kW/310Nm to the front wheels in the entry-level ‘Superior’ standard-range model, allowing the 0-100km/h race to be completed in 7.3 seconds on the route to a top speed of 160km/h.
A lithium-ion ‘Blade’ battery pack with a capacity of 50.1kWh allows for a claimed maximum driving range of 400km between charges (or 320km estimated according to European WLTP procedures).