Photos — BYD’s first electric car in South Africa

Chinese electric automotive giant Build Your Dreams (BYD) recently announced its entry into the South African market — with its first vehicle on offer locally being the BYD Atto 3 compact SUV.

Outside of China, the Atto 3 is already being sold in the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

While BYD follows a plethora of Asian carmakers — including Baic, Chery, Haval, Omoda, and Proton — to firmly set their sights on South African motorists, it is the first to do so with a fully-electric car.

MyBroadband attended BYD’s local launch of the Atto 3 this week.

BYD said it chose South Africa as the country had a growing market demand for cleaner transportation options.

“As one of the largest economies on the African continent with numerous challenges related to air pollution, there is a significant opportunity for electric vehicles like those produced by BYD,” the company said.

On display were models in the Surfing Blue, Skiing White, and Climbing Grey colours. Additional options available to order are Exploring Green and Parkour Red.

The Atto 3’s exterior was modern and easy on the eyes, but quite conservative compared to some of the otherworldly designs seen on EVs.

The front lights were slightly reminiscent of the Haval Jolion or 2017 Ford Kuga with fewer sharp angles.

There was no large grille to speak of either — a popular trend with recent internal combustion engine and electric cars.

The top section of the front looked a bit more like a Tesla, while the bottom was similar to a VW T-Roc or Tiguan.

The Atto 3’s sides have plenty of flowing lines. Together with the side profile of the rear lights, it reminded us of a compact BMW SUV.

The large silver finishing piece behind the back windows seemed to be borrowed from the VW ID.4.

The rear, with its uninterrupted bar light, was a bit more unique but perhaps most closely also resembled the ID.4’s, minus the black linings.

Despite combining elements seen on other cars, the Atto 3’s mix created a rather unique style.

The gym-inspired interior of the Atto 3 was not quite comparable to any other car I’ve been in.

From the dumbbell-shaped vents and treadmill-reminiscent centre console to the roundish door handles and string-fitted door storage compartments, the Atto 3 was almost shouting that it was trying to set itself apart.

In the front, the 12.8-inch rotating touch display in the middle of the dashboard will draw the most attention.

This display can switch between vertical or horizontal orientation at the tap of a button on the steering wheel or display itself.

The gear lever was also a standout piece.

While some might remark it appears similar to the handles featured on many pieces of gym equipment, it reminded us more of the throttle lever on an airplane.

BYD Atto 3 dashboard and steering wheel
BYD Atto 3 front seats
BYD Atto 3 back seats
BYD Atto 3 front left passenger door
BYD Atto 3 dashboard as seen from the passenger side

The Atto 3’s sole rival in the compact electric SUV segment will be the Volvo EX30, although that is only slated to land in South Africa in early 2024.

The Atto 3 is available for order now from BYD’s website and is already on showroom floors at some Alpine Motor Group branches. It is expected to go on sale in July 2023.

Evidently, BYD is confident in its bet on a future where South Africans will be more willing to go fully electric.

Below are more photos of the BYD Atto 3 during the Chinese giant’s launch in South Africa.

The Atto 3’s charging port supports up to 70kW DC charging and 11kW AC charging.
The BYD Atto 3 has vehicle-to-load capability, allowing it to power several home appliances through a multiplug. During BYD’s launch, it was used to power a coffee machine.
The driver side-view mirror comes with an NFC reader for unlocking the car with digital keys.
Airplane throttle-like gear lever
330 litres of boot space when the spare wheel is in the car.
The unusual door handles also house the car’s speakers.
Three thick strings help prevent large items in the door storage bins from dropping out. These make a noise when plucked, just like guitar strings.
Unfortunately, the Atto 3 had no “frunk”/”froot” (front trunk/front boot)

Now read: Cars converting to run on LP gas in South Africa — and getting their own fuel stations

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Photos — BYD’s first electric car in South Africa