BYD is pulling no punches when it comes to aggressive pricing for its Atto 3 launch in UAE. At Dh149,900, the SUV also packs a range of 400 plus kilometers. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The biggest challenger to Tesla in the UAE’s electric vehicles space has landed – China’s BYD and its local partner Al-Futtaim have launched the Atto 3 SUV and will back that up with a further two EV models this year itself. And for good measure, launch two plug-in hybrid models too.

On the Atto 3, BYD is going the distance with the range – 420 kilometers – and on the price, at Dh149,900. Bringing it under the Dh150,000 mark will be decisive in running up some early numbers on the sales side.

The pricing makes it the most accessible EV model available through an official dealership in the UAE to date. Other EVs hew closer to Dh200,000 and much more, leaving a fairly open field for BYD to build up scale in this market.

Read more

In the run up to the official launch, “We had more than 95,000 online visitors checking out the model, more than 3,000 registered leads and 153 bookings,” said Hasan Nergiz, Managing Director, Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company, a newly created entity that oversees all of Al-Futtaim’s expanding interests in the EV space (including in the charging category). “All this even before they had even seen the car.

“What people don’t understand that much is that BYD is already the No. 1 EV manufacturer in the world and outsells Tesla. Atto 3 is the model that we will deploy to build a presence in the UAE and then will come the other models.”

Next up would be the flagship BYD Han sedan, bookings for which have opened on the BYD UAE website, and with the actual launch in October.

According to auto industry sources, the next 3 years will see EVs and hybrids building a wider following in the UAE, whether through actual ownership, leasing or subscription. (Al-Futtaim is already placing the BYD into its subscription ride services.)

Currently, EV sales make up less than 5 per cent of the UAE new car sales, and that number is skewed towards fleet sales rather than to retail buyers. That too could change, as 20- or 30-somethings turn early adopters of EV options.

Put through stringent summer tests

On why BYD and Al-Futtaim decided to stagger the launches, Nergiz said: “Each of the models are being put through the stringent hot-summer tests. We have added modifications to suit local conditions, especially on the air conditioning, battery power and other summer-related specs.

“These and the homologation requirements dictate our launch plans.”

Stock - BYD Atto 3
Checking out the BYD Atto 3 on launch day in the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

Support the pricing

While the first 100 Atto 3 buyers get three-year free servicing, the local dealership is also putting its weight behind the retail pricing. “We are offering a set residual value for a three-year period, at the end of which the user can either decide to take full ownership or trade up,” said Nergiz. “What this does is guarantee the future value of all BYD models.

“There’s no risk for the buyer – and that’s what we meant by promising full democratization when it comes to owning an electric vehicle in the UAE. The EV ownership experience has to go mass market, which is what we are delivering.”

Getting the EV charging networks plugged in
Even as it lines up BYD model launches in UAE, the Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Co. is not losing sight of the EV charging networks. The dealership intends to add its considerable influence in expanding the network through a series of installations and at various price points.

“This will be as important as making the pricing of the EV models accessible,” said Hasan Nergiz. “For a wider base of EV owners, it’s a must that they can connect to charging networks wherever possible.”