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New BYD Dolphin vs GWM Ora – The cheapest electric cars in South Africa

The BYD Dolphin has touched down in South Africa and is now available to buyers in KwaZulu-Natal with plans to introduce it to other areas on a per-province basis.

The Dolphin is officially the most affordable electric vehicle (EV) in the country, claiming the title from the GWM Ora which only held the position since November last year.

The BYD has a starting price of R539,900making it R147,050 cheaper than the Ora, which goes for a minimum of R686,950.

These two models are the trendsetters in the push for affordable EVs in South Africa, making for an interesting case study as to what an “entry-level” electric car looks like in the current market.


The base Dolphin is sold with a single front-mounted electric motor producing 70kW and 180Nm.

This is paired to a 44.9kWh battery, giving it a range of 340km.

A more powerful Extended Range option is also available, which increases the motor’s output to 150kW and 310Nm.

This setup uses a larger 60.48kWh cell that allows it to travel for up to 427km.

Charging the bigger battery to 100% takes about 5.5 hours on an 11kW plug, or 42 minutes with an 88kW DC fast-charging cable.

In contrast, all four units in the Ora family utilize the same front-mounted e-motor, which generates a total of 126kW and 250Nm.

However, it offers two battery choices: either a 48kWh module good for 310km, or a 63kWh pack with 420km on tap.

Topping up the larger power source takes 50 minutes with a 64kW DC rapid charger, or 6.8 hours with an 11kW socket.


The standard equipment sheet of both Chinese cars includes LED headlights, alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, a wireless charger, synthetic leather upholstery, climate control, a digital driver display and an infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

They also come with adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera, rear parking sensors, tyre-pressure monitoring, and ABS.

In terms of where they differ, the GWM has 18-inch alloys and two 10.25-inch displays; while the BYD uses 16-inch rims, a 5-inch driver’s screen, and a rotating 12.8-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation.

The two Dolphin units share the same specs as they are only differentiated by their drivetrains, which means the small car comes standard with a sunroof and a wider array of assistance functions including front parking sensors, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, a speed limiter, traffic sign recognition, predictive collision warning, front and rear cross-traffic alert with braking, rear collision warning, blind-spot detection, and driver fatigue monitoring.

The Ora, on the other hand, has three trim levels – Super Luxury, Ultra Luxury, and GT Ultra Luxury – and you’ll need to spring for the latter to get everything.

Doing so will add an electric tailgate, a sunroof, heated and ventilated massage front seats, and GT-themed red cosmetics for both the interior and exterior.

It also brings assistance items including automatic parking, traffic sign recognition, a speed limiter, intelligent turning control, traffic jam assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection and intersection assist, lane-change assist, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and centering, emergency lane-keeping, front and rear cross-traffic assistant with braking, and front and rear-collision warnings.


The South African pricing for the new BYD Dolphin is as follows:

  • BYD Dolphin Standard Range – R539,900
  • BYD Dolphin Extended Range – R599,900

This includes a 5-year/100,000km vehicle warranty and an 8-year/160,000km battery warranty.

The local pricing for the GWM Ora is as follows:

  • GWM Ora 03 300 Super Luxury – R686,950
  • GWM Ora 03 400 Super Luxury – R775,950
  • GWM Ora 03 400 Ultra Luxury – R805,950
  • GWM Ora 03 400 GT Ultra Luxury – R835,950

Each purchase comes with a  7-year/200,000km vehicle warranty, 8-year/150,000km warranty on high-voltage parts, 7-year/105,000km service plan, and 7-year/unlimited kilometre roadside assistance.

BYD Dolphin


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