6 Mar 24

The number one Tesla rival to kick up competition in South Africa

The number one Tesla rival to kick up competition in South Africa

BYD, the world's largest new energy vehicle (NEV) manufacturer, plans to enter the South African market with one of its most affordable and favoured models, the Dolphin hatchback, to stir up global competition against Tesla in a growing market. 

BYD is eager to expand in South Africa after debuting the Atto 3 SUV in July 2023. According to the local media, a BYD representative unveiled the plans for Dolphin at a local test-drive event for Atto 3. 

The five-seater hatchback is an ideal option for families and various consumers. Dolphin's battery is 44.9 kW/h, and its range is 255 km (in-city). Dolphin has a maximum fast-charge power of 60 kW DC and can charge from 10% to 80% in 40 minutes. The lithium iron phosphate battery (LFP) has an eight-year warranty. 

The timing of the Dolphin's launch is almost aligned with the launch in Australia, where it is the cheapest available all-electric vehicle. 

In Australia, a right-hand drive market similar to South Africa, Dolphin comes in Dynamic and Premium. The former and the latter have 70 kW and 150 kW outputs, respectively, allowing Premium models to reach 100 km/h in 7 seconds. 

The entry-level Dolphin Dynamic is sold for around 39,000 Australian dollars.

The Dynamic model has a 60 kW fast-charging DC option, while Premium's max fast-charging power is 88 kW DC. 

Before entering the passenger market, BYD entered South Africa through a partnership with Golden Arrow Bus Services(GABS), formed in 2021, and has been delivering electric buses since then. 

Still no Tesla in South Africa

Taking advantage of critical government subsidies and growing demand, BYD entered a crucial market that Tesla has yet to join. Despite being a South African himself, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on X (formerly Twitter) in January 2024 that "the import duties are super high in South Africa to protect the domestic industry." 

He added that entering the South African market at this point "wouldn't make sense for Tesla, given the electric cars are not locally made." 

This may mean that Tesla plans to build a Gigafactory in South Africa. 

The main photo is courtesy of BYD. 

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen