BYD T3 review: Here’s our take on the electric van in Singapore (2022)
7.5 min read
The BYD T3 electric van is a pure electric commercial vehicle that’s purpose-built for urban logistics operations and produces zero emissions. Powered by BYD’s proprietary NCM battery, the T3 has a battery capacity of 50.3kWh and possesses a charging rate of 40kW (DC).
With an impressive 3,800-litre of cargo space packed into a small footprint, the T3 is a capable performer, and is comparable to the Renault Kangoo in terms of carrying capacity. The T3 is also a little bit quicker, thanks to its 134bhp on tap.
Exterior and dimensions
The BYD T3 is a compact-sized commercial van that has a relatively small footprint when compared to similar commercial vehicles in its segment. This small footprint is particularly useful in Singapore, and allows the T3 to remain quite mobile and manoeuvrable in urban settings.
For this reason, drivers who are new to the idea of driving a commercial vehicle will find the T3 extremely easy to drive, even in tighter settings like multi-storey car parks and narrow HDB service roads.
The 1,875mm height of the T3 means that it will fit within the height limit of most HDB car parks in Singapore, although there are a few exceptions — so be sure to plan your journeys beforehand and check the height limits.
Thankfully, the T3 utilises a soft, flexible antenna instead of the larger, more rigid types found on some commercial vehicles. This means that only a small amount of additional clearance needs to be factored in when trying to clear car park height limits.
As a commercial vehicle, the BYD T3 looks clean-cut, and doesn’t bother with the unnecessary styling bits that are found on other commercial vehicles in its segment. Charging ports are practically placed behind the front vehicle logo, which eliminates the risk of you opening your sliding door into the charging head while the vehicle is charging.
This is a useful feature, especially if you aren’t used to electric commercial vehicles and are only using them once in a while for certain errands or for your IKEA furniture runs.
Interior and practicality
Aside from the regular doors for both the driver and the front passenger, the BYD T3 comes with a sliding door on each side and a flip-up rear cargo door. The sliding doors are particularly useful if you are trying to retrieve packages or boxes from different areas of the cargo area. They also eliminate the need for you to have to actually climb into the cargo area to retrieve your packages.
The presence of the flip-up cargo door however, does mean that you’ll want to choose your parking spaces carefully, as parking too closely to a rear wall might limit the use of this door.
Otherwise, in wide open spaces, the flip-up door offers greater accessibility due to its increased aperture as compared to a barn-style door.
While some compact commercial vans have a tendency to ride at crossover heights, the T3 offers a more elevated seating position which is pleasant. The ride height allows for greater visibility out of the vehicle and makes judging your vehicle limits easier — once again a useful feature if you’re only using the T3 for specific errands and not as a daily vehicle.
The entire cargo floor is covered in sheet aluminium which lets you slide large items across the floor easily, although if you aren’t carrying a full load, you’ll want to tether them down to prevent them from flying about.
Above the rear wheel hub, there is also a small but useful compartment for storing any tools or gadgets that you might need, like a torchlight or a pocket knife or maybe a labeller.
The cargo area isn’t the longest in the market, but certainly is one of the highest in its class, and thus will accommodate some types of packages better than others — but as with any commercial vehicle, you’ll have to figure out what packing configuration works best.
A good workaround is that the T3 doesn’t actually come with a bulkhead, so you could technically push longer objects through into the driver’s cabin should you require a little bit of extra length.
Driving and technology
Inside, the T3 is simple and to the point, and provides everything you need to accomplish your errands, even managing to squeeze out a few comfort features like a Start/Stop button instead of a key crank, an electric parking brake instead of a handbrake, as well as button-controlled air conditioning controls instead of the typical round plastic knobs or dials that are found in other commercial vehicles.
Everything is logically laid out on the centre console and is easy to locate, including a radio with 6 memory slots to ensure that you have your favourite radio station on hand during your drive. Large and easily accessible cup holders also ensure that you have space for your water bottles or tumblers.
The instrument cluster features a partial digital driver’s display which shows you information such as your charge level, remaining range, odometer reading, current gear, and time. Your speedometer and power usage readings are analogue and are well-lit to ensure good visibility.
Speaking of good visibility, the T3 provides the driver with an excellent vantage point all around, aided by its high and elevated seating position. The curved window edges actually curve down towards the A-pillar which gives you better visibility.
The side view mirrors are large and proportionately tall, allowing the driver to keep plenty of the vehicle in sight. Lastly, the flip-up rear cargo door means that you have a clear view out the back, as opposed to a barn door which splits in the middle.
On the road, the BYD T3 is pleasant to drive for a commercial vehicle, largely thanks to its fully electric drivetrain, which offers drivers a smoothness not normally associated with commercial vans. As a fully electric commercial van, the T3 is powered by a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor that’s paired with a single-speed automatic transmission.
Not only that, it’s also extremely quiet while driving, as compared to the clattering and droning noises you would normally get on a diesel-powered commercial van with a manual transmission.
This means that on longer journeys, you’re less likely to experience the kind of fatigue that a regular commercial vehicle would cause — a huge plus if you’re driving longer distances with multiple stop points.
The automatic transmission also means that it can be driven by anyone with a Class 3A licence, which is becoming more and more common among consumers today.
Another perk of a fully electric commercial van like the T3 is that the vehicle offers plenty of torque, and its power is easily accessible across town-driving speeds.
The real-life impact of the available torque is most pronounced when moving off traffic lights, allowing you to coast around town-driving speeds with relative ease similar to driving a regular car.
That said, the suspension set up on the T3 is still a fairly utilitarian one that’s built to be durable rather than sporty, so we’d definitely advise sticking to the 70km/h speed limit applied to commercial vehicles like the BYD T3.
The BYD T3 is great for light-to-medium-duty commercial tasks like the transportation of boxes and smaller pieces of furniture, making it the perfect vehicle for home-moving. The elevated seating position allows for great visibility around the vehicle and makes driving easy.
While still simple and utilitarian, interior comfort features like a semi-digital driver’s display, along with button-operated air conditioning controls, a reverse camera, and electronic side view mirrors do make the T3 a more pleasant place to be in. Its electric drivetrain also makes it one of the smoother commercial vehicles to operate.
Lastly, despite being a commercial van which would normally need a Class 3 licence to operate, the T3’s automatic transmission means that a wider range of drivers can use it for shorter, more ad-hoc trips.
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