Meet Mzansi’s cheapest electric vehicle, the BYD Dolphin

Published May 13, 2024

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South Africans wishing to buy an electric vehicle (EV) now have a much more affordable option in the form of the BYD Dolphin, brought to you by the world’s biggest EV maker.

Priced at R539,900 for the standard range version and R599,900 in flagship extended range guise, it’s not necessarily the ultra-affordable EV that many buyers have been crying out for in the face of high fuel prices, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

On a linked prime interest rate deal with 60 months repayment terms and 20% balloon/residual, the standard range version could currently cost about R10,800 monthly, while the extended range could cost about R11,900 monthly, on the same terms.

Until now the least expensive electric car in South Africa was the GWM Ora 03, which is priced from R686,950, with the runner up spot held by BYD’s larger Atto 3, kicking off at R768,000.

Although BYD has yet to announce a national launch for the Dolphin, dealers have been advertising the new model.

IOL spoke to a few dealer representatives, with BYD Umhlanga stating it already had stock of the new Dolphin, while BYD Woodmead said it expected the first customer units to arrive on Wednesday.

The BYD Dolphin is available in two variants, offering outputs of 70kW and 150kW. Picture: Supplied.

The Dolphin’s specs

Although the BYD Dolphin appears rather compact, its 4290mm length actually makes it slightly longer than a Volkswagen Golf, although it is slightly narrower.

BYD claims a boot capacity of 345 litres with all seats in place. The Dolphin’s powertrain and battery differ depending on which model you opt for.

The standard range comes with a smaller motor that produces 70kW and 180Nm, juiced by a 44.9 kWh Blade Battery that offers a claimed (WLTP cycle) range of up to 340km between charges.

If you opt for the extended range model, which is actually not that much more expensive, you get a more powerful motor that’s rated at 150kW and 310Nm, and a larger 60 kWh battery that’s good for a WLTP range of 427km.

BYD says the standard model will sprint from 0-100km/h in 12.3 seconds, which is par for the course for a small hatchback, while the flagship model does the deed in a more sprightly 7.0 seconds.

Both have AC and DC charging ports, with the cheaper model boasting a charge rate of 60kW and the flagship managing 80kW.

BYD hasn’t skimped on standard features, with both models boasting a 12.8-inch rotating touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and satnav, as well as automatic air conditioning, keyless start and synthetic leather seat upholstery.

The Dolphins cabin has a rotating touchscreen. Picture: Supplied.

Also standard is a whole suite of radar-based driver assistance gadgets, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Automatic Emergency Braking and 360-degree view monitor, to name just a few.

The BYD Dolphin is built on the brand’s all-new “e-Platform 3.0” that was designed exclusively for EVs. Its “Blade” battery is said to be one of the world’s safest.

In the last quarter of 2023, BYD overtook Tesla to become the world’s top-selling electric car maker.

GlobalData analyst Neil Saunders told AFP earlier this year that the Chinese auto giant had a “structural advantage” as much of its expansion has been underpinned by strong support for EVs by the Chinese government.

"This is helping to boost domestic demand which, in turn, strengthens BYD's hand in the export market," Saunders said.

IOL Motoring

Related Topics:

Electric CarsHatchback