An unusual potential privacy issue identified by BYD Atto 3 owners online is being addressed within the next 48 hours, says the brand’s Australian distributor.

    A user on the BYD Electric Vehicle Owners group on Facebook recorded a video of the issue, which allows for the car’s internal SIM to be dialled by an external party.

    UPDATE, 07/01/2023 01:45am EVDirect has confirmed the issue has been resolved.

    In the video, the owner dials the car’s SIM number and audio from inside the vehicle is transmitted to their phone – but there’s no indication to the driver on the touchscreen infotainment system or the digital instrument cluster that a call is in progress, and no apparent way to terminate the call from the vehicle.

    The only indicator the vehicle gave that a call was in progress was by muting the audio. The issue also reportedly occurs when the vehicle is turned off.

    “I wasn’t able to hang-up the covert call from the car, even opening the phone app in the car or pressing the pickup/hangup button on the steering wheel didn’t terminate the covert call,” said the owner.

    “Even turning off cellular allowed a call to be taken, so there’s no way I can find that an Australian Atto 3 customer can have privacy in their own car if someone was spying on them.”

    One user said she has actually received multiple calls, suggesting the SIM number was recycled.

    “I have had 4 different people somehow ring through to my car… first time I thought someone connected to my Bluetooth but after the 4th I assumed they somehow are ringing my SIM number,” said the user, noting there was much confusion on both ends of the calls.

    What does BYD Australia’s distributor say?

    BYD’s local partner EVDirect said it was aware of the matter, adding “it is being addressed rapidly with Telstra, the SIM provider and data holder,” according to managing director Luke Todd.

    “There is no risk of exposure for people obtaining car owners’ details. We anticipate it being resolved within 48 hours. All data and SIM information is held by Telstra securely,” Mr Todd claimed.

    eSIMs are becoming increasingly common in new vehicles, but we’re not aware of any such issues occurring in other brands’ vehicles in Australia, whereby anyone with the SIM number may be able to listen into an EV owner’s cabin via a call.

    While the Atto 3 has quickly soared up the sales charts to become Australia’s third best-selling EV, the brand’s local launch hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing.

    BYD had to pause sales to rectify an issue with its child seat anchor points not being compliant with Australian Design Rules, which also delayed the announcement of a local five-star ANCAP rating.

    It also had to cut its service prices, and defend the various limits within its warranty program.

    MORE: Everything BYD Atto 3

    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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