Nikkei reporters test drive WORLD electric SUV Nikkei Chinese website

Chinese pure electric vehicle (EV) maker BYD (BYD) is set to enter the Japanese passenger car market. It is planned to launch three models in a row, starting with the SUV which will be launched in January 2023. BYD has previously sold pure electric buses in Japan, and this is the first time to sell passenger cars . Can Japanese consumers accept Chinese-made pure electric vehicles? Nihon Keizai Shimbun reporters (Chinese version: Nikkei Chinese website) tested the WORLD’s first SUV “ATTO 3” in Japan to prove its strength.

ATTO 3 is a medium-sized 5-seat SUV. Compared to pure electric vehicles of Japanese car companies, ATTO 3’s width is 1875 mm, which is wider, but slightly smaller than Toyota’s “bZ4X” and Nissan’s “Ariya”. The appearance of the whole vehicle is simple and quite satisfying. Tofukuji Atsuki, president of BYD Auto Japan, said, “We are targeting a wide range of users, not a niche group.”

But after entering the car, the reporter found that the interior was very delicate. It gives the feeling of “gym x music” and adopts the design of dumbbells and musical instruments. The seats and steering wheel are faux leather with red accents, but the touch is firm and the texture is surprisingly loud.

The first thing that catches the eye from the driver’s seat is the 12.8-inch monitor. In addition to operating the navigation and air conditioning, it is also possible to check the images of the rear view monitor, etc. For easy viewing, the display can be rotated horizontally and vertically at any time. Inside the steering wheel are digital gauges that show speed, remaining power and motor output, making people feel advanced.

However, there are still plenty of switches left around the steering wheel and gear shifter. Compared to Tesla’s pure electric car in the United States, the operation is closer to the current gasoline car.

Once you step on the accelerator and start driving, you can feel the quiet that is unique to a pure electric vehicle without an engine, as well as the car’s quick response to the operation. Acceleration is also smooth with just a touch of the gas and brake pedals while driving. There are three driving modes: Economy, Standard and Sport.

The test drive area is around Yokohama Mirai Port. The size of the car didn’t feel inconvenient to drive on Japanese roads either. Ride comfort is stable, and when ordinary drivers like reporters drive, they feel no less than pure electric vehicles from Japanese car companies.

On the other hand, you can also feel the difference with Japanese cars. One is feedback of the feeling of operation. Japanese cars deliberately convey the sense of the car’s acceleration to the driver by adding sounds and other means. However, although ATTO 3 has accelerated to almost 100 km/h, only the wind noise and the noise of the tire contacting the road surface have become louder, making it difficult for the driver feel the acceleration with his body.

Another point is that regenerative braking is weak. The “regenerative brake” uses the rotation of the motor to generate electricity during deceleration, which is the advantage of pure electric vehicles. Even if ATTO 3’s regeneration function is set to “strong”, compared to Nissan’s “LEAF (Chinese name: LEAF)), it still feels that the regeneration function is weak.

The degree of completion of the Japanese market may become an issue. BYD took the lead in launching the ATTO 3 in Australia this summer, this time, the reporter tested the charging method of the Australian model and changed it to a model that meets Japanese standards. Modifications such as support for Japanese navigation and Japanese display language will be completed in the future.

After the test drive, the reporter felt that the performance of the BYD vehicle itself was enough to compete with the pure electric vehicles of Japanese car companies. In Japan, the BYD brand is still lacking in popularity, and the key to selling well will be the price.

Nissan’s Ariya has a minimum price of 5.39 million yen, and SUBARU’s “SOLTERRA” has a minimum price of 5.94 million yen, but the price of ATTO 3 (Chinese name: Yuan PLUS) in China is about 140,000 to 170,000 yuan in July (About 2.8 million to 3.5 million yen, the actual selling price after enjoying the subsidy). Some analysts believe that BYD’s price in Japan will also be controlled at around 4 million yen.

In addition, the exterior of the ATTO 3 is available in 5 colors including blue and red, but there is only 1 color tone for the interior, and no original options are available. No price increase will be caused by adding accessories, and the pricing system is clear at first glance.

Launched in China in February, the ATTO 3 sold 80,000 units globally in the six months to the end of July. Japanese automakers do not yet have pure electric models that sell 10,000 units per month. Japan’s share of new electric vehicle sales (passenger cars) will finally reach 2% in 2022, lagging behind major world countries. BYD, which begins sales in Japan in early 2023, may stimulate Japanese automakers.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Chinese Edition: Nikkei Chubun Net) Ryotaro Yamada and Taketomo Fukui

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