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‘Atto-tal’ gamechanger for Ayala

‘Atto-tal’ gamechanger for Ayala

Tessa R. Salazar

The launch of BYD’s full-EV crossover puts AC Motors right in the middle of competitively priced new-energy vehicles.

 

It’s hard not to root for an underdog. I guess we Pinoys have been hardwired for it. For example, during my visit to the Tokyo Big Sight during the recently concluded Japan Mobility Show (JMS) 2023, I noticed that China’s leading EV maker BYD had a booth there. Woah, a Chinese carmaker in a Japanese-dominated auto show. BYD sure had the guts showing their wares in “enemy” territory. And for that, I applauded BYD for being the first-ever Chinese automaker to participate in Japan’s premier auto show in its 47-year history.

But it’s not just about having balls of steel that made BYD join JMS 2023. I surmise that this move was also a strong statement not just to the Asian mobility scene, but to the rest of the world, that a Chinese company that was once a lowly “bargain battery maker” can now make world-class new-energy vehicles (NEVs) that could rival even the likes of Tesla. Build Your Dreams has literally been true to its name. It dreamt big, and continuously built on it. I might have smirked a bit the first time I learned what the name BYD meant some years ago. But I’m picking up my jaw from the floor now. As of this writing, BYD Auto is neck-and-neck with Tesla for the title of the largest plugin EV manufacturer in the world. It overtook Tesla with 641,000 units of NEV sales (battery EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs) in the first half of 2022, according to the South China Morning Post.

Another report in Nikkei Asia says, “in the third quarter of this year (2023), BYD came within a hair’s breadth of beating Tesla in terms of EV units sold worldwide, selling 431,603 battery-powered EVs, up 23 percent from the previous quarter, while Tesla delivered 435,059 vehicles worldwide. Outside China, the world’s largest EV market where it is the undisputed champion, in several months this year, BYD claimed the throne of bestselling EV in Thailand, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel and Brazil.”

Now, in the Philippines, BYD comes in also as a sort of underdog. Despite its impressive credentials in the Chinese and global scene, the carmaker still remains a relatively unknown and untested brand compared to the dominant Japanese, Korean, American, and European brands. And we know that Filipino buyers are fiercely loyal to established brands, a market trait that BYD hopes to address with its introduction of the ATTO 3 EV.

AC Motors president and CEO Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala during the launch of the BYD ATTO 3 Dynamic and Premium variants at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City.

BYD isn’t joining the fray without some serious backing, though. Since Ayala Corp has recently acquired exclusive distributorship of the BYD brand in the Philippines, the latter can be assured of the all-around support of one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, which just so happens to make the creation of a nationwide EV ecosystem among its top-tier priorities.

“This is one step closer to the future of mobility here in the Philippines,” AC Motors president and CEO Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala quipped during the Nov. 17 launch of the full-electric crossover BYD ATTO 3 Dynamic and Premium variants at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City.

“We at AC Motors want to deliver the mobility experience that Filipino consumers deserve. This is the product that the modern Filipino consumer has been asking for. The product that provides long-term value for the customers. We want to provide products that would let you go further, faster and with an ecosystem that is reliable and affordable,” he added.

Going further, and more affordably, means that the ATTO 3’s range runs between 410 km (for the Dynamic) and 480 km (for the Premium), and for an SRP of just P1.598 million and P1.798, respectively.

This is the kind of EV from AC Motors that I could really go for personally. Yes, the Kia EV6 is a wonderful piece of EV machinery in its own right. But its pricing puts it well above and beyond any potential for it being AC Motors’ mass-market entry for NEVs (and we do need to have much, much more EV offers for the mass market if we’re hoping to make it to our emissions targets as a society). The ATTO 3 is already in that neighborhood of affordability (albeit still in the upper limits), and admirably so, its two variants use vegan leather (no animals were harmed in the making of the interior).

World’s first 8-in-1 electric powertrain

Toti Zara, president and CEO of BYD Philippines, told the Glorietta crowd that the ATTO 3 is intended for “the young professional looking for an everyday car that’s reliable, efficient, and one that reflects their tech-forward and modern personality, but with an eye for design.”

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“The ATTO 3 is also for the working mom or dad who needs their car to be a worry-free workhorse, running errands and shuttling their kids to school, but also wants it done with comfort and style. It’s for the weekend warrior who looks forward to the car’s exhilarating acceleration during their out-of-town trips—whether that’s a Tagaytay food trip, a game at the golf course, or a museum trip to Antipolo. It’s a car for the modern Filipino who doesn’t compromise on style, performance, affordability, nor safety,” said Zara.

He added that “the ATTO 3’s e-Platform 3.0 is exclusively designed for the next generation of pure-electric vehicles offering faster charging time with longer range.”

Embedded in the e-Platform 3.0 is the world’s first 8-in-1 electric powertrain, the proprietary BYD Blade Battery, and other core technologies developed by BYD.

“BYD has been a pioneer in the battery industry for more than 28 years. Many of us might not appreciate the impact BYD has had on battery technology globally, but if you owned a Nokia or Motorola phone from the late-90s, you were probably already a BYD customer. BYD has used this expertise to set the standards for the most critical component of an electric vehicle, which is the battery,” said Zara.

Zara said that the BYD Blade Battery was launched in 2020, and is engineered to be safer, provide longer range, and last several thousand cycles—all in a compact size allowing for more vehicle interior space.

“It passed extreme serial tests, making it one of the world’s safest batteries. Its innovative construction offers greater efficiency since it packs more battery capacity in less space.”