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The BYD M3e is the most affordable passenger electric MPV that you can buy in Singapore today.

17 Nov 2020


The BYD M3e is the most affordable electric passenger vehicle in Singapore today. At $105,888 (as of 16 November 2020), the M3e is a good $14,000 off the Renault Zoe Electric, the next cheapest non-BYD EV.

But dollars and cents aside, the M3e proves one thing - an electric vehicle can be a fuss-free experience.

Van or MPV?

The M3e's van-like properties are apparent on the outside
If the M3e is giving you feelings of deja vu, you're not wrong. The M3e is effectively a passenger version of the BYD T3, a commercial van.

Both of them share the same platform that underpins the popular commercial Nissan NV200 van. 

What BYD has done is fit an electric powertrain into a chassis most would expect to run a diesel or petrol engine.

In fact, some remnants of its fuel-driven properties remain. The original fuel cap on the driver's side is sealed shut, and the rear bumper still retains a cut-out for the exhaust pipe.

Fit for a purpose

Nothing fancy on the inside, but it is a space that offers lots of usability
So when you step inside, you're greeted with a utilitarian interior that's fit for commercial properties. There's plenty of hard plastics, and nothing to distract you from its true purpose of carrying seven passengers.

Most manufacturers tend to play out the uniqueness of an EV in terms of design and functionality, but the M3e still feels and offers a level of familiarity that you expect in a car.

Thus, there's nothing quite telling of the M3e's electric properties on first glance. In place of a rev counter is a power indicator, along with a 4.3-inch digital display that tells you of your range and battery levels.

And for your passengers, they'll probably only notice the lack of noise from a fuel-driven engine.

EV for seven

The M3e can fit seven adults, with the second row's two captain seats offering a reasonable amount of kneeroom
Speaking of them, the BYD M3e is a seven-seater, in a 2+2+3 configuration.

The second row cannot be folded away to allow for easier access to the third row. Instead, those relegated to the back will have to walk through the aisle between the two seats.

Now we say 'walk', not 'crawl'. Getting in and out of the M3e is quite a simple task. Thanks to its tall roof, passengers will only have to duck slightly to get to the back seats. There's no issues swapping seats even on the move. Not that we recommend doing that, of course.

The M3e's van properties come into play here. When you talk about cargo space, folding the third row away reveals a fairly large and tall boot. And even at full seating capacity, there's enough room around the cabin to sandwich a bag or two for road trips.

Electric power

The power gauge might just read till 200kW (264bhp), but the M3e makes a modest 94bhp
On the go, the M3e offers a humble 94bhp and 180Nm of torque from its electric motor. But get on it though, and the M3e is indeed sprightlier than what its power figures suggest.

In city traffic, the M3e offers enough punch to get out of sticky situations. It is quite the entertainer, too. Be more spirited when moving off and you might just experience a bit of wheelspin from the front tyres.

But there's only so much entertainment before the M3e's van-like properties kick in. The M3e is more than capable to keep up with expressway traffic, but the chassis will protest. With leaf springs in the rear, the ride can get a little too harsh especially when dealing with bad patches of road and other undulations.

Steering is vague at speed, but the M3e does offer a reasonably small turning radius for tight situations
This, combined with a steering that offers little feedback, makes the drive a little unnerving at speed.

It isn't all bad. Thanks to its large mirrors and windows, the M3e is very easy to place on the road.

Combine this with its small turning radius, and it makes manoeuvring around tight car parks a breeze. It might not be a bruiser, but the M3e is something that you can easily live with every day.

No anxiety

Before collecting the M3e, we diligently signed up for Greenlots to make use of SP Group's 50kW charging stations. But there wasn't any need to.

Both Type 2 AC and CCS Combo Type 2 charging are available, meaning you wouldn't have any issues with most charging stations here
With our experience with overly optimistic EV range figures, the M3e is perhaps the most accurate one we've experienced. With 297km on the clock when we first started, our 117km test drive gave us an estimated range of 180km with 60% battery left.

This is considering our wheelspin inducing, more than spirited inputs while driving the M3e.

But even if we did charge the M3e up, our calculations confirmed that it'll take close to 30 minutes to attain a full charge from 60%, using a 50kW station.

The no-frills EV

The BYD M3e shows that electric motoring can be done in a fuss-free package, at a reasonable price
In many ways, the BYD M3e might not be as refined, or as well-equipped compared to its fuel-driven MPV counterparts.

But where it lacks, it makes up for it with its ability to carry seven passengers in comfort.

And the M3e's value proposition is set to extend even further. Come 2021, the new Vehicle Emissions Scheme will mean the M3e will benefit from a $25,000 rebate.

So, if carrying people and staying green is your cup of tea, the M3e might just be your best bet.

Car Information

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BYD M3e Electric 50.3 kWh (A)
Rate it

Price

: $109,888

Engine Type

:

AC Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor

Engine Cap

:

-

Horsepower

:

70kW (94 bhp)

Torque

:

180 Nm

Transmission

:

Single-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

18.9sec

Top Speed

:

100km/h

Fuel consumption

:

unknown

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