BYD Dolphin, image courtesy of BYD.

The BYD Dolphin Is Now The Lowest Priced EV In South Africa

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Sales of electric vehicles have been very slow in South Africa, but the industry is starting to show signs of growth. Sales of battery-electric vehicles came close to breaching the 1,000 units per year mark in South Africa for the first time ever. Last year, 931 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold in South Africa, almost doubling from 502 in 2022 and quadrupling from 218 in 2021. With only 1,955 BEVs sold since 2018, its clear to see that sales of BEVs have been slow in South Africa compared to similar auto markets around the world. This is due to the limited variety of BEV models in the country, coupled with the high import duties and taxes levied on electric vehicles.

This means most of the vehicles available in the global market would end up being quite expensive compared to their equivalent ICE vehicles if they were introduced in South Africa. This price difference would be more prominent in the smaller vehicle segments, making it a bit challenging to sell those EVs. Taxes in South Africa are set at 18% for ICE imports vs 25% for EV imports. There is also the ad valorem tax for EVs which pushes the cost of an EV to more than 2X that of the average price of a new ICE vehicle of a similar make/model in most cases. This is probably why the majority of EV models sold in South Africa are the more premium models priced from well over 1 million rand ($54,000) and a lot of them are priced from well over 2 million rand ($108,320) as well. This premium model segment is where the pricing is more competitive than in the smaller vehicle segment. Then again, people who buy $100,000 cars probably aren’t too worried about an extra $10,000.

A 2022 by report by Autotrader showed that over 70% of South Africans that responded to the poll would be interested in switching to electric if they had the option to buy an electric vehicle that costs less than R500,000 ($27,000). There is some good news as South Africans will now have an EV priced from R539,000 ($29,000).  This BEV will now be the lowest priced BEV in South Africa. The BYD Dolphin will be about R150,000 ($8,000) cheaper than the Great Wall Motor Ora 03, which was the most affordable BEV in South Africa before the introduction of the Dolphin.

This will be a major boost for the South African EV sector if BYD can bring theses in decent volumes. BYD launched the ATTO 3 last year in South Africa, but we haven’t heard any major sales activity after its launch. The ATTO 3 was not on the 2023 sales charts, suggesting that sales may not have started yet. The ATTO 3 is also listed on the BYD KZN website starting from R768,000 ($41,600). Have you seen any ATTO 3s on South Africa’s roads since the launch last year?

Back to the Dolphin. The Dolphin will be offered in two main variants:

  • 45kWh with 70 kW motor, 94hp and 330 km range – R539,000
  • 60kWh with 150 kW motor, 201hp and 427 km range- R599,900

I hope BYD can ramp up its operations in South Africa including marketing and customer awareness programs in a market that really needs more education on EVs. BYD has the opportunity to really push its more affordable EVs in this market. I also hope a right-hand drive BYD Seagull is also in the works, and it could then come to South Africa and other markets on the African continent as an even more affordable EV.


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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since.

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has 777 posts and counting. See all posts by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai