BYD Atto 3 SUV Hits Town

THE EVs (electric vehicles) are coming and we are not talking about those EV scoot cycles for quick mobility over short distances. We are talking abouts cars and SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and BYD is the latest to hop onto the EV bandwagon here.

Given the current scenario, BYD is actually a bit late into the market given that Nissan already had the Leaf here for a few years now, followed by the Renault Zoe, BMW i-Series and Mercedes-Benz EQ range. Mitsubishi Malaysia even tested the market with its i-MIEV some years ago.

According to the RTD (Road Transport Department) or JPJ, more than 10,700 electric vehicles were already registered to date for Malaysian road use. It is still a very small number compared to non-electric cars but this number is expected to balloon over the next few years as more options come into the market.

Sime Darby obviously saw the opportunity to enter the market now and its choice in the BYD EV range couldn’t be better. BYD is becoming the top automotive brand in China this year and its global ambitions have seen it reaching out to many markets around the world.

It also announced the acquisition of a huge plot of land in Thailand just a day before the Malaysian launch of the Atto 3 for a manufacturing base. It is highly probable that BYD plans to build its range of EVs at this Thai base for the region and beyond.

What gives the Atto 3 a strong appeal is that it is an SUV, which is currently high on many new car buyer lists. And its price, given the current tax exemption for EVs till 2024, is very competitive against other EV brands.

There are two models made available by Beyond Auto, a subsidiary company set up under the Sime Darby Group to sell the BYD EV range; the Standard range model has a price starting from RM149,800 and an Extended range model priced from RM167,800.

You get good warranties too; vehicle warranty of six years or 150,000km, high voltage Blade battery warranty of eight years or 160,000km and drive unit warranty of eight years or 150,000km. Attractive Grand Launch Special incentives come in a complimentary portable home charger, complimentary V2L Extension Cable and free RM1000 charging credit.

The Atto 3 is dimensionally comparable to the Toyota Corolla Cross and new Honda HR-V with an overall length of 4455mm, width of 1875mm and height of 1615mm. It runs on a wheelbase of 2720mm but is a lot heavier at 1680kg and 1750kg for the respective model. This is due mainly to the battery weight. The battery is a BYD Blade Battery system with a capacity of 49.92kWh and 60.48kWh respectively.

For power, it has a permanent magnet synchronous motor that delivers 150kW (203hp) and 310Nm. Not surprising, the Atto 3 is said to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds, faster than the new Honda Civic Turbo and e:HEV hybrid!

The driving range on the NEDC scale is 410km for the Standard model and 480km for the Extended model. Realistically, with the air-conditioner turned on and other electric components in the Atto 3 being used, the practical range would be about 350m and 420km. Still that’s a sufficient range for most people and should be enough for almost a week’s driving needs in between home charging.

It is independently sprung all round with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link set-up in the rear. The all-round disc brake system sees ventilated units in front and the alloy wheels are fitted with 215/60 R17 tyres for the Standard model and 215/55 R18 for the Extended variant.

It comes well equipped too; panoramic sunroof with electric slide and anti-trap features, synthetic leather seats, roof rails, electric unlock tailgate, LED (light emitting diode) front and rear lamps, six-way adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry and start, portable card key, among others.

There is no compromise on active and passive safety features with seven airbags, seatbelt reminder all round, 360-degree view monitor, tyre pressure monitoring system, front and rear collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection, automatic emergency braking system, electronic stability program (ESP) and the list goes on.

In body styling, it is about as contemporary as you would expect it to be with the slim and sleek headlamps and a continuous rear lamp assembly. Aerodynamically, the Atto 3’s profile is said to be a low 0.21 Cd value and that might mean it would need less electric power to cruise along on highways, possibly extending your range.

The BYD Atto 3 is imported from China and the first batch of up to 150 vehicles are fully booked. And if you place an order now, you could expect to get this BYD SUV by about March next year.

It comes in a range of five colours and you need to send the Atto 3 for regular service only once a year. That is mainly to check on the electric motor, battery condition, among other vehicle details. Now, all you need is more quick charging points along the peninsula to make long distance drives hassle free and enjoyable.