BYD Atto 3 electric SUV approved for sale in Australia

The Australian Government has granted approval for the BYD Atto 3 EV to be sold here ahead of deliveries beginning in August.

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The BYD Atto 3 has been approved for sale in Australia just weeks before deliveries are set to begin.

A government approval notice was published today, advising the Chinese electric SUV is compliant with Australian Design Rules (ADRs).

Requests for approval are often done months in advance, so it’s unusual that this particular approval notice was issued just weeks before deliveries are set to begin.

It lists a tare mass of 1680kg and 1750kg for the Standard Range and Extended Range, respectively.

Interestingly, braked and unbraked towing capacity is 0kg.

17-inch alloy wheels are also listed as standard fit for the base model, despite the Australian website noting standard 18-inch alloys for both variants.

Distributor EVDirect emailed customers earlier this month that local deliveries of the Atto 3 would be delayed by 6 to 8 weeks, and would begin in August – not July, as had previously been claimed.

The delay pushed not only deliveries but also the timeline for test drives into August or September.

It has subsequently notified customers of the Standard Range model that it’ll be delayed further as BYD is prioritising production of the Extended Range.

“Unfortunately, we have received advice from BYD in China that the production of the Standard Range Atto 3 vehicles will not commence until estimated mid-October with delivery to Australia scheduled to start in November-December,” said EVDirect in a letter to customers.

“This is due to the high-volume production requirements of the extended range option.”

It’s giving customers the opportunity to keep their place in the queue by securing an Extended Range in the same colour, with an estimated delivery time of August/September 2022.

EVDirect says almost 90 per cent of customers have opted for the Extended Range model.

If you’re not already in the queue, you’ll be waiting until December 2022 or January 2023 for a new Standard Range according to the website.

In the past week, the wait times for new Extended Range orders have also ticked over to December/January according to EVDirect’s website.

Customers will pick up their cars from an Experience Centre location and not a mycar location, as had previously been the plan.

Servicing, however, will still be available at both Eagers and mycar locations.

There’s also the option to have your BYD vehicle delivered to you, for a fee, if you live more than 50km from an Eagers location.

The company says it’ll release warranty and servicing information shortly.

BYD vehicles have previously been offered in Australia – you may have taken a previous-generation BYD e6 taxi in Sydney – but the EVDirect-led push of the new Atto 3 small electric SUV is the Chinese brand’s biggest step here yet.

While not a household name in Australia, BYD is a giant in the ‘new energy vehicle’ space, which as well as cars produces electric buses and even batteries for other companies. Warren Buffett is a major shareholder.

It now exclusively produces electric and hybrid vehicles.

BYD has established an Australia-focused line at one of its factories in China, and plans to commence production of the first 15,000 cars for this market. That is the kind of healthy supply only Tesla can compete with.

Beyond the Atto 3, a further two BYD vehicle models will go on sale both online and in-store by December 2022 in Australia, expected to be a small EV hatch and mid-sized EV sedan.

The Atto 3 will tackle the heart of the electric vehicle market in Australia, giving the MG ZS EV a direct rival while also vying for prospective buyers of the Kia Niro EV and Nissan Leaf – both more expensive vehicles.

It’s priced from $44,990 drive-away depending on your state, with the Extended Range model costing $3000 more.

The Extended Range costs an extra $3000, and offers 420km of range on the WLTP cycle – an increase of 100km on the Standard Range.

Both variants use BYD’s in-house ‘Blade’ LFP batteries, with base cars packing 50kWh of capacity and extended range models 60kWh.

The battery powers a 150kW and 310Nm front-wheel drive electric motor, capable of pushing the Atto 3 from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 7.3 seconds.

There’s a 400V charging architecture, with maximum AC charging capacity of 7kW and DC charging at up to 80kW.

BYD claims it has taken more than 3000 orders for the Atto 3 already, which would put it among Australia’s best-selling EVs already.

To put this 3000 figure into context, market-wide EV sales in Australia between January and June 2022 inclusive of Tesla sit at 9680 units, about half of which are the Model 3.

The company says the Atto 3 is currently undergoing safety testing in Europe by Euro NCAP, which will allow it to get an ANCAP rating.

Just four paint colours will be offered: standard white, along with grey, blue and red. The latter three will cost an extra $700.

EVDirect also says there’ll be just one interior trim option and one alloy wheel option available, at least at first.

Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are in development and will be added as over-the-air updates.

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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 (remember that?), briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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