Stars of The British Motor Show 2023 – BYD ATTO 3
The electric family crossover segment is hardly short of cars, but BYD reckons it can upstage the primarily European choices by introducing the Atto 3.
Before we talk more about the Atto 3 and the impressive technology it brings to the UK market, it is probably worth explaining what on earth BYD is.
Build Your Dreams (BYD for short) is a vast Chinese business which in 2023 stands as the world’s largest producer of Lithium-ion batteries. Staggeringly, one in five mobile phones around the globe uses a BYD battery, which means you are likely already familiar with its products.
It doesn’t end here, either. BYD fits its batteries to everything from trains, grid storage units to the electric buses we proudly call London landmarks. What’s more, BYD is no stranger to cars, with its automotive division twenty years old and with around a million cars sold already.
So why are we only hearing from BYD now?
Well, because it has decided the time is right to bring its electric car expertise to UK shores, with its new range of family cars – with the first being the Atto 3 we are focussing on here.
Given the huge number of electric parts it manufactures in-house and the resulting competitive price point, legacy car makers should be worried.
So what about the car itself?
Well, the Atto 3’s styling is pleasingly familiar. Apparently the front end is supposed to mimic the scowling eyes and long whiskers of a dragon, and regardless of whether you buy into this or not, it does look attractive.
Inside, there are fun details – such as the guitar string-like speakers and door cards – and tubular air vents. Apparently the cabin takes its inspiration from a gym, which is novel.
In fact, the Atto 3 is exactly what you would expect a crossover EV to look like, which, while not especially exciting, is what is necessary to win over sceptical European buyers.
One reason why it looks so familiar is because BYD’s design guru, Wolfgang Egger, has previously worked for Alfa Romeo and Audi. This is the man who penned the bite-the-back-of-your-hand beautiful Alfa 8C…although you probably wouldn’t know it from this more humble offering.
However, the real revolution is happening underneath the inoffensive bodywork.
The Atto 3 is the first car which uses BYD’s e-Platform 3.0 platform, which is incredibly flexible and can in theory be used for anything from hatchbacks to sports cars.
As you would expect from a battery giant, the Atto 3 comes equipped with BYD’s in-house batteries, ECU chips and software. When you consider how many parts legacy manufacturers share with each other these days, this is a gamechanger.
Talking of batteries, BYD calls the packs fitted to the Atto 3 ‘Blades’, which offer an entirely new configuration of electric battery.
While normal electric car batteries use modules to squeeze the cells together, BYD uses a cell-to-pack format, which fits the cells to the main case itself.
This reduces packaging waste, improves lightness and efficiency, and makes the batteries far less bulky. It also enables BYD to do without cobalt inside the batteries, which is a major step given how murky an economy cobalt mining is.
In the real world, the Atto 3’s batteries have a range of 260 miles, and gives the car reasonable performance – with a 0-62 mph time of just over 7 seconds.
Fancy taking a look around the gym-inspired interior? Find the BYD Atto 3 at The British Motor Show between 17-20 August.