The BYD Dolphin – set to be one of Australia’s cheapest electric vehicles – has been spied testing in New South Wales.

    In these images shared on the Facebook group Car Spotters Australia, the electric hatch is wearing camouflage on its front end, making it hard to identify any visual changes.

    We don’t expect any major exterior changes up front, though the presence of camouflage here and not anywhere else on the vehicle is noteworthy.

    Bright red accents can be seen on the bumpers, mirrors and down the side of the vehicle; these accents are available in other colours, such as lurid lime green, in China, and carry through to the interior.

    It appears to be the same prototype as had previously been spied and posted on Twitter, which was missing some trim on its front bumper and had its sensors exposed.

    The BYD Dolphin will rival the upcoming MG 4 and GWM Ora Good Cat electric hatchbacks, with all three models set for launch in 2023. The Dolphin is due in the first half of the year.

    Though each of the three are from different companies, all will be exported here from China, which is quickly carving out a significant slice of the Australian EV market.

    The exact date for when orders for the Dolphin open will be announced in February next year, according to Luke Todd, CEO and managing director of local BYD distributor EVDirect.

    Few Australian details about the BYD Dolphin are confirmed thus far, but it will likely have a different name locally, according to Mr Todd, as Dolphin is what it’s called in the Chinese market.

    Names including EA1 and Atto 2 have been speculated thus far, but no name for the Australian market has been announced yet.

    The electric hatchback will be priced underneath the Atto 3, according to Mr Todd, which recently received a price rise of $3630 and now starts at $48,011 before on-road costs.

    Pricing between the $35,000 and $40,000 mark has been previously speculated, but it’s unclear if this accurate now given the rising prices of lithium-ion battery packs, among other factors.

    The BYD Dolphin was first revealed in concept form in April 2021 during the Auto Shanghai motor show, and in production form later in 2021.

    It measures in at around four metres long, which is around the same length as the Volkswagen Polo and Toyota Yaris, though it has a 2.7m-long wheelbase.

    In China the small hatchback is available with two-single motor powertrains and two battery packs.

    The base powertrain in the Chinese market produces 70kW of power and 180Nm of torque, while the other produces 130kW and 290Nm.

    The battery packs are 30.7kWh and 44.9kWh, respectively, with the former supporting DC charging at up to 40kW and the latter offering up to 60kW. Maximum AC charging capability on all models is 7kW, while all models also feature a heat pump.

    The Dolphin’s suspension features McPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear.

    Available safety and driver assist features include autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, traffic jam assist, and semi-autonomous parking assist.

    Inside, there’s a 5.0-inch digital instrument cluster and a choice of 10.1-inch or 12.8-inch rotating central touchscreens, while available comfort and convenience features include keyless entry and start, a panoramic glass roof and a power driver’s seat.

    The BYD Dolphin will be followed by the Tesla Model 3-rivalling Seal, which is set to launch in Australia in the second half of 2023.

    Mr Todd also recently confirmed BYD will launch an electric ute in 2024, which will form as a competitor to the LDV eT60, plus the incoming JAC T9 EV and (potentially) Geely Radar RD6.

    ‘New energy vehicle’ brand BYD is currently expanding at a rapid pace, rolling out its EVs in Europe, Japan, and Australia – where its Atto 3 small SUV is selling in strong numbers after a few launch speed bumps.

    In fact, the Warren Buffett-backed EV and battery supplier eclipsed three million EV and PHEV sales globally last month.

    BYD Auto wants to create a “powerful brand matrix” comprising BYD-branded cars, premium spinoff Denza, and a luxury SUV-focused brand called Yangwang.

    BYD recently teased a Mercedes-Benz EQG-rivalling electric SUV which will fall under the Yangwang brand, which Mr Todd said there are no plans to bring to Australia in the immediate future.

    The Chinese carmaker also plans to launch “another new brand” which will specialise in “professional and personalised identities, covering family cars and luxury cars”.

    “The brand will harness the co-creation with users and warmly welcome all the franchised dealerships to join BYD for its promotion,” it added, suggesting the cars with higher degrees of personalisation.

    MORE: When the BYD Atto 3 Standard Range, Seal, Dolphin will hit Australia

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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