New electrics coming

New electrics coming

Chinese electric vehicle brand BYD Auto is to land its first vehicles in New Zealand in the third quarter of the year, with a mid-sized SUV crossover — the Atto 3 — spearheading a line up that will expand to include further models in 2023 and 2024.

Though little-known outside of China, BYD is already the fourth-largest electric vehicle manufacturer in the world behind Tesla, SAIC (parent company of the MG brand) and Volkswagen. As well as passenger cars, its produces EV buses, trucks and forklifts.

BYD’s move into this part of the world is part of a massive global expansion, which aims to make BYD the largest EV manufacturer in the world, potentially as soon as the end of this year.

A potential rival to the MG ZS EV for bragging rights as New Zealand’s cheapest new EV, the Atto 3 first appeared in China in the middle of last year. Fitted with a choice of 50kWh and 60.5kWh battery packs — either driving a 152kW/310Nm electric motor — it should easily outdo the 44.5kWh ZS EV for range in either configuration.

The battery deployed in the Atto 3 is BYD’s own ‘‘battery blade’’, which is more efficiently packaged, less fire-prone, and less reliant on scarce metals than conventional EV batteries.

Full details of the Atto 3’s specification will be announced next month, but a talking point in other markets is a centre 12.8-inch infotainment screen that can be rotated between portrait and landscape orientations.

Ateco Automotive NZ, which already represents Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Maserati in this country, will be the distributor here, via a deal network that has yet to be confirmed, but is described by Ateco as ‘‘comprehensive’’.

The BYD Atto 3 is already confirmed for Australia (with the first deliveries there scheduled for next month). News of its presence on this side of the Tasman comes less than three months after it was announced that European marque Opel would be returning to these shores latter in 2022 with a range of electric and low-emissions vehicles.

- David Thomson