New Chinese car maker launching in South Africa – what to expect

 ·25 May 2023

The Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker BYD – short for Build Your Dreams – is officially entering the South African market in 2023.

Its first model bound for South Africa is BYD’s battery-powered crossover SUV – the Atto 3 – which is scheduled to reach the local market in the next two months, as reported by MyBroadband.

The Atto is the second Chinese EV planned for South Africa in 2023, following the recently-unveiled GWM Ora, which will likely be BYD’s biggest competitor.

GWM announced that the Ora would launch at a starting price of R716,900, and while BYD has yet to announce the official Atto 3 pricing for South Africa, it’s expected to come in under R800,000.

The Atto 3  is already on sale in several markets outside China — including Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Singapore.


According to TopAuto, standout features inside the Atto 3 consist of the following:

  • A 5-inch digital driver’s display;
  • climate control;
  • Multi-colour ambient lighting;
  • A panoramic sunroof;
  • A multifunction steering wheel and heated and electric front seats;
  • A 12.8-inch “rotating” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite navigation, and online music streaming through apps such as Spotify;
  • Adaptive LED lights
  • keyless entry and start
  • A one-touch tailgate and 360-view cameras

Additionally, the EV will sport drive assist features such as front and rear parking sensors, hill-descent control, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warnings, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert with braking, and front and rear collision warnings.


While BYD has held back the specific details of the upcoming Atto 3 for local markets, the electric vehicle has already been introduced in several international markets, and the specifications of the Atto 3 remain consistent across these markets.

Driving the Atto in Australia is a single electric motor connected to the front axle producing 150kW and 310Nm, allowing it to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds.

The crossover will come with either a 50kWh or 60kWh battery, depending on the chosen model—standard or extended-range. The standard model provides a range of 345km and a maximum DC charging speed of 70kW, while the extended-range version increases the distance to 420km and accepts an 80kW DC charger.

At home, the larger battery can be recharged from 0% to 100% in approximately 10 hours and 15 minutes, while the 80kW plug can achieve the same state of charge in just 64 minutes.

In addition to these features, the EV also offers a unique capability that proves especially valuable during the country’s ongoing power crisis. It is equipped with a vehicle-to-load (VTOL) mobile power supply function, essentially turning it into a “super mobile power bank.”

This function enables bi-directional charging up to 3.3kWh, allowing the EV to power devices and appliances during electricity outages, reported MyBroadband.

BYD Atto 3

Read: New 4×4 SUV coming to South Africa – pricing and features

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