Yesterday, we received confirmation that the BYD Atto 3 and e6 electric vehicles will be launching in Malaysia in early December 2022, with deliveries to start in the first quarter of next year. The two EVs will be the launch models for BYD SD Motors Malaysia (BYD SDM, under the Sime Darby Motors umbrella), but the new distributor won’t be stopping there.

BYD SDM also revealed plans to bring in the Dolphin and Seal models from the Chinese EV specialist. The BYD SDM staffer who responded to our WhatsApp enquiry said that the two electric cars with water creatures as names are being targeted for Q4 2023. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the Dolphin.

The Dolphin or EA1 is a compact five-door hatch that’s smaller than the Atto 3 crossover that will debut next month. It looks modern and has nice proportions, with very short overhangs at both ends and prominent ‘Z’ lines on the profile, which also sports a rising beltline and fully blacked out rear pillars.

Also adding to the mini SUV look is the full-width rear LED signature, which is more commonly found on SUVs. It’s not a simple straight line either – note the twist as it goes to the centre. For those who don’t know what BYD stands for, it’s Build Your Dreams, as emblazoned on the hatch.

If you pull out the tape, it’s 4,125 mm long and 1,770 mm wide, which puts the footprint of the Dolphin 220 mm shorter and 22 mm wider than a Honda City Hatchback. About the same same size as a typical ICE B-segment hatch then, but the EV is 82 mm taller than the Honda and its 2,700 mm wheelbase length is in C-segment territory. Without the need to accommodate an engine, EVs can benefit from better packaging.

The Dolphin is powered by a single 174 hp/290 Nm motor, which in turn sucks from a 44.9 kWh battery, which like all other BYD EVs, is an in-house LFP Blade unit. Range per full charge is 401 km on the NEDC – deduct 20% from this and you’re in the more realistic WLPT ballpark. AC charging at 7 kW takes 6 hours and 25 minutes, while DC fast charging at up to 60 kW will refill the battery from 30-80% state of charge (SOC) in 30 minutes.

There’s also a less powerful version with the same 44.9 kWh battery. The motor is rated at 94 hp/180 Nm and it takes 0.9 seconds slower to reach 50 km/h from rest compared to the top Dolphin (3.9s vs 3.0s). However, range isn’t much improved over the more powerful version – it’s 405 km on the NEDC.

The entry-level Dolphin comes with the same 94 hp/180 Nm motor, but paired to a 30.7 kWh battery for up to 301 km of NEDC range. DC fast charging will also top up SOC from 30% to 80% SOC in 30 minutes, but the max rate is 40 kW here.

The BYD Dolphin looks good and has decent specs, but the main point of this car is affordability. The RM150k mark is what Malaysians are thinking of when it comes to entry-level EVs, and indeed, the Hyundai Kona Electric and the upcoming Ora Good Cat (launching this month) are priced in that ballpark. BYD SDM says that its Atto 3 and e6 EVs will start from between RM150k and RM170k. But we’ve not had a more compact, more affordable electric runabout yet.

The Dolphin could be it. In China, the Atto 3 (Yuan Plus) is priced from 150k yuan while the Dolphin starts from 94k yuan. If the Atto 3 starts from RM150k here, the Dolphin could possible duck under the RM100k mark to be the cheapest EV in Malaysia? Changes the conversation on EVs, right? What do you think of the BYD Dolphin?

GALLERY: BYD EA1 Dolphin

Tags: