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China's BYD electric brand arrives from $44,381, online

BYD's first car is the Atto 3, a battery-driven SUV that undercuts the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Leaf, and closely rivals the outgoing MG ZS.

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello
News Editor
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A year since it made its expansive plans known, Australian vehicle distributor EVDirect has now opened order books and announced pricing for the BYD Atto 3 electric SUV.

That appears to be good news for the growing number of Australians looking at their first electric vehicle (EV), who find themselves bereft of affordable options – a common problem here.

This China-made Atto 3, a renamed version of a car called Yuan Plus, will be sold online kicking off at $44,381 before on-road costs, with deliveries estimated to begin in July according to the company.

It fits well under the rebate cutoff for the States that offer such programs and can be locked in with a $1000 refundable deposit.

That asking price compares well with the (also Chinese) MG ZS EV, which has become the number-two EV in the country by sales behind the Shanghai-assembled Tesla Model 3.

That car was $44,990 drive-away, but the updated model due around July will likely be more expensive. Regardless, the BYD is a bigger vehicle with more claimed range than the outgoing MG.

While not a household name to all and sundry, 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.

EVDirect is part of a company called Nexport, part of the TrueGreen Group investment fund.

It claims 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, with legacy OEMS all crippled by shortages.

EVDirect says it also plans to offer what it calls “the country’s biggest market-driven EV stimulus” with $500 million worth of low-interest finance (as low as 3.81 per cent) to be offered.

Brand experience centres (showrooms) are also expected, starting in Sydney.

The ordering process on EVDirect – which is the recognised Australian importer and reseller of BYDs but not part of the company itself – looks much like Tesla’s, down to the font.

The Atto 3 will be available in standard range form, or with a bigger battery and more range for a further $3000 – a reasonable impost for an extra 100km of range.

Both use BYD’s lauded in-house ‘Blade’ batteries, with base cars packing 50.1kWh of capacity and extended range models 60.4kWh. The respective WLTP driving ranges of the pair are 320km and 420km.

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.

According to the spec sheet, the Atto 3 comes with a Type 2 AC plug and a CCS 2 DC plug, the latter with a maximum charge rate of 80kW. A 220V emergency charge cable is provided.

The 4455mm long Atto 3 is 140mm longer than the MG and 250mm longer than a Hyundai Kona, and almost the same length as a Nissan Leaf. Its suspension comprises MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup at the rear.

It looks to come well-equipped, with listed standard features including 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, powered tailgate, proximity key access, roof rails, part-leather seats with power adjustment, 12.8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, DAB+, a wireless phone charger, and eight speakers.

Safety and driver-assist functions include seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, front and rear collision alerts, lane-keeping assist, and rear cross-traffic assist.

In terms of servicing, EVDirect has cut a deal with Mycar, the independent repairer formerly known as Kmart Tyre & Auto, to act as both delivery and servicing agent. Therefore you order your car at EVDirect.com.au, and use this company as your pickup and service point.

In addition to the Yuan Plus/Atto 3 here, Nexport/EVDirect has also pledged to sell the BYD EA1 (Dolphin in China) small EV hatch with a target price of $35,000-$40,000 and a focus on ride-share operators.

Nexport’s parent, TrueGreen Mobility division, received a cash injection from Australia’s St Baker Energy Investment Fund recently, which lists in its portfolio battery developer Novonix and public charge provider Evie, and has invested in Australia’s DC ‘unicorn’ Tritium – which resides on the Nasdaq.

This level of affiliation with Evie and Tritium theoretically opens the door to offering BYD EV owners charging solutions at their bases of operation, and smooth access to a growing public charger network.

Just a few of the most anticipated EVs launching this year – most, like the cars already listed, will be subject to short supplies for the foreseeable – include (alphabetically):

  • Cupra Born
  • Genesis GV60
  • Great Wall Motor Ora Cat
  • Kia EV6
  • Mercedes-Benz EQS
  • MG ZS EV update
  • Polestar 2
  • Tesla Model Y
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Volvo C40

MORE: BYD Yuan Plus electric SUV locked in for Australia
MORE: BYD T3 van becomes Australia’s cheapest electric car
MORE: Electric 2022 BYD E6 set for local launch with $40k list price
MORE: BYD’s importer takes huge EV order from Uber partner
MORE: BYD promises to slash Australian electric car prices

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello
Mike Costello is the News Editor at CarExpert.
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