Avatar photo

By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Disturbing Ora? BYD Atto 3 a surprise ‘yes’ for South Africa

Crossover of China's best-selling EV marque could potentially become South Africa's cheapest electric vehicle.

China’s biggest electric automaker, Build Your Dreams, known better by its abbreviation BYD, is setting its sights on South Africa as early as next month with the crossover-styled Atto 3.

Sold in its home market as the Yuan Plus since February last year, the Atto 3, according to BYD, takes its global market name from the term “attosecond” is says refers to the newcomer being “speedy, energetic and dynamic”.

What is it?

Available in key right-hand-drive markets such as the United Kingdom, Japan and more recently, Thailand and Australia, the Atto 3 hasn’t been fully detailed for South Africa yet as this only expected, as mentioned, next month.

In fact, its confirmation for the local market came as an unexpected surprise after a media agency, supposedly related to BYD, informed The Citizen that “the Atto 3 has landed in South Africa” and would be premiering towards the end of June.


It’s confirmation coming a week after Great Wall Motors (GWM) showcased the all-electric Ora at the Nampo Agricultural expo in Bothaville in the Free State, the Atto 3 rides on BYD’s e-Platform 3.0 and is powered by a unique battery called a blade-type pack that uses lithium-ion phosphate instead of the usual lithium-ion batteries.

ALSO READ: WATCH: GWM Ora emits silent pulling power at Nampo reveal

A design reportedly unique to BYD, the Atto 3 measures 4 455 mm long, 1 615 mm tall and 1 875 mm wide while riding on a 2 720 mm wheelbase. Claimed boot space ranges between 555-litres to 1 338-litres with the rear seats down.

Power and range

In Australia, the Atto 3 offers a choice of two models; the Standard Range and top-spec Extended Range, the former equipped with a 49.9-kWh battery and the latter with 60.4-kWh unit.

Despite their being no differences in power as both produce 150kW/310Nm, significantly more than the 126kW/250Nm made by Ora’s 48-kWh and 63-kWh packs, the Standard Range will travel 345 km and the Extended Range 420 km before requiring a visit to the plug.

BYD Atto 3 confirmed for South Africa
Atto 3 has a range of up to 420km but despite being a crossover, only comes with front-wheel-drive. Image: BYD Europe

Incidentally, while the Standard Range trounces the 48-kWh Ora’s distance by 35 km, the Extended Range has the exact same distance claim, albeit with more power.

Able to get from 0-100 km/h in 7.3 seconds before topping out at 160 km/h, the Atto 3 can be charged from either a normal household socket, or a fast charger producing up to 80 kW. The claimed waiting time using the latter from 30-80%, is 30 minutes according to BYD.

Rotating infotainment system

Despite its crossover appearance, the Atto 3 sends its amount of twist to the front axle only and Down Under, regardless of the chosen model, comes with the following features as standard:

  • ambient lighting
  • five-inch digital instrument cluster
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • panoramic sunroof
  • Auto High Beam Assist LED headlights
  • eight-speaker sound system
  • keyless entry and push-button start
  • faux leather seats with the fronts being heated
  • wireless smartphone charger
  • electric tailgate
  • tyre pressure monitor

Arguably the most intriguing is the 12.8-inch infotainment system that rotates horizontally or vertically 90-degrees as a result of being connected to an actuator integrated into the dashboard. While available with embedded satellite navigation, at present, it lacks both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

On the safety side, the Atto 3’s awarding of a five-star crash rating by Australia’s NCAP means it comes with the following items as standard Down Under:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • front and rear parking sensors
  • surround-view camera system

Could it become South Africa’s cheapest EV?

Down Under, pricing for Atto 3 kicks-off at $44 381 (R562 079) for the Standard Range and ends at $47 381 (R600 074) for the Extended Range with buyers having a choice of three colours; Ski White, Boulder Grey, Surf Blue and the Extended Range exclusive Parkour Red.

For now, it remains to be seen how the Atto 3 will fare against the Ora that will launch with a starting price of R716 900 come later this year.

Given the relative asking price in Australia though, chances are that the Atto 3 could potentially even outprice the Ora as South Africa’s cheapest electric vehicle should BYD get its sums right.

At present, nothing else is known and will only become apparent next month.

Additional information from carexpert.com and insideevs.com.

NOW READ: WATCH: Unusual three-wheeling debut for BYD’s new EV hypercar

Read more on these topics

electric cars Motoring News SUV

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits