After months of delays, Chinese automotive giant BYD has finally opened its mass order books in Australia – though not for the “sub-$35,000” electric hatchback originally promised.
The new Atto 3 compact SUV – known as the ‘Yuan Plus’ in its home market – starts from $44,381 before on-road for the entry-level variant, and local distributor Nexport claims customer deliveries will begin in July 2022 (approximately five months from today).
While that figure doesn’t make the BYD Australia’s cheapest electric vehicle outright anywhere, it currently sits in second place behind only the $44,990 drive-away MG ZS EV in all states but Tasmania (where low stamp duty and registration charges put it exactly on par with the MG in the traffic).
Currently, potential buyers can place a fully-refundable $1000 deposit to reserve a vehicle on EVDirect.com.au. Finalising the sale will not be possible until cars arrive, and, according to the small print, the advertised pricing is “subject to change.”
All display examples of the Atto 3 currently in Australia were built for the Chinese market in left-hand drive, meaning local media and prospective buyers have so far been unable to assess the vehicle.
However – despite not yet importing a registrable example of its new model and having no prior experience selling passenger cars en masse in Australia – importer Nexport is adamant it has “full factory backing” to build 1500 vehicles with the steering wheel on the correct side within the next five months.
Nexport has previously imported the BYD E6 people mover and T3 van – however no more than 65 examples across both models were ever sold to customers.
It claims it will import 15,000 cars before the end of 2022, suggesting ambitions to outsell electric vehicle market leader Tesla in its first year on sale.
In entry-level, ‘Superior’ standard-range guise a single electric motor sends 150kW/310Nm to the front wheels, allowing the 0-100km/h sprint to be completed in a claimed 7.3 seconds on the way to a top speed of 160km/h (view Drive’s full deep dive into pricing and specifications by clicking here).
A 50.1kWh lithium-ion ‘Blade’ battery pack permits a claimed maximum driving range of 400km between charges (or 320km estimated according to European WLTP procedures).
If these figures prove to be accurate in real world testing, the BYD Atto 3 performance credentials will comfortably exceed those of its MG rival.
Inside the cabin, all five seats are trimmed in a two-tone faux-leather trim and infotainment comes via a 12.8-inch rotating infotainment screen.