Lessons from an EV novice: Key takeaways from BYD Atto 3 electric road trip

I recently purchased a BYD Atto 3 from a dealership in Southern Sydney and embarked on a 12-hour drive back to my home in Byron Bay. The cost of the trip was only $18.95, compared to the over $200 I would have spent on petrol for the same distance. As a first-time EV driver, I made some mistakes and learned valuable lessons along the way. Here are some tips based on my experience.

To plan my trip, I used the trip planner function on PlugShare, which has the most comprehensive and user-friendly app for finding public EV chargers. The total distance of my route from Sydney to Byron Bay was 766km, while the BYD Atto 3 has a nameplate range of 480km. However, it rarely achieves this range in practice, especially on highways.

Initially, my plan was to drive to the NRMA Fast Charger in Thrumster near Port Macquarie, which was 376km from my starting point. I intended to do a full charge there and complete the remaining 390km in the second leg. I also made sure to identify backup charging stations along the way.

Fortunately, there are fast chargers every 50km on the Sydney to Brisbane route, so I didn’t have to worry too much about range anxiety.

However, as I left Sydney, I noticed that the estimated range on the dashboard was decreasing faster than expected. By the time I reached the freeway, my buffer had dropped to 75km. It became clear that I would need to make an extra stop before reaching Port Macquarie.

The estimated range on the dashboard of the BYD turned out to be very ambitious, especially at higher speeds and with the air conditioning running.

For my first stop, I chose BP Heatherbrae, where I found a vacant Tritium charger operated by BP Pulse. Initially, I had trouble activating the charger using NFC, so I downloaded the BP Pulse app and successfully activated it within 5 minutes. I only spent 8 minutes at this stop since the charger was running at 67kW, which I believed would provide enough charge to reach Port Macquarie.

After resuming the drive, I noticed that the estimated range had increased from 230km to 302km. However, the buffer decreased more quickly, possibly due to the air conditioning working harder later in the day. To play it safe, I decided to find another fast charger on PlugShare for a quick pit stop before reaching Thrumster.

My second stop was at the Nabiac NRMA Fast Charger, which was free to use. I simply plugged in and pressed the green start button on the charger. This 12-minute stop added an extra 80km to the range, which was more than enough to reach Thrumster with 48km or 10% of the battery left.

At Thrumster, I planned to make a longer recharge stop. I chose this location because there were two charging bays and positive feedback from other users. I arrived to find two vacant bays and easily plugged in to charge. The BYD showed that it was charging at 45kW and estimated a full charge in 1 hour and 14 minutes. While waiting, I explored the nearby shopping area and ordered a coffee.

However, when I returned to the vehicle after about 90 minutes, I discovered that the charger had stopped and the battery percentage remained at 10%. Another BYD driver informed me about the etiquette of checking in on PlugShare to let others know how long you’ll be using the charger. I restarted the charger, checked in on PlugShare, and waited in the car while monitoring the charging status in the BYD app. In total, I spent 3 hours at Thrumster.

For the remaining drive to Ocean Shores, my planned stop was at the Shell Tyndale Fast Charger. I made a spontaneous stop at the Coffs Harbour Service Centre but found both chargers occupied. So, I continued to Tyndale.

At Shell Tyndale, I encountered some difficulty activating the charger using various credit cards, so I had to download the Evie app and register to start the charger. The BYD has a maximum charging rate of 80kW, and the charger showed that it was charging at 88kW. It took 18 minutes to obtain the 20kWh needed to safely reach Ocean Shores.

Overall, the second leg of the trip went smoother as I learned some key lessons. Here are five lessons that I believe are universal for any EV driver:

1. Know the real range of your vehicle. In my experience, the BYD achieves about 70% of the stated range on the dashboard when driving at high speeds with the air conditioning on.

2. Have a small arsenal of apps set up. I needed to use BYD, Evie, Pulse, and PlugShare during the trip. Having these apps registered ahead of time would have saved time.

3. Check for backup fast chargers on your route. Sometimes, you may not have enough charge to reach your original destination. Identify fast chargers that are about 70-80% of the way to your next stop as potential backup options.

4. Chargers need to be monitored. Public chargers may randomly stop or turn off, requiring a restart. You should be able to monitor the live charging status of your car using the vehicle’s app, so you can reset the charger if needed.

5. It’s good etiquette to “check-in” on PlugShare. Let other drivers know when you are using a charger and how long you’ll be there.

In conclusion, my first long trip in an EV was a learning experience. Despite some challenges, the cost savings and environmental benefits make it worth the effort. With proper planning and awareness of the limitations of your vehicle, you can have a successful and enjoyable journey.
Lessons from an EV Novice: Key Takeaways from BYD Atto 3 Electric Road Trip

With the increasing concern for the environment and the need for sustainable transportation solutions, electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as a promising alternative to conventional fossil fuel-powered cars. As an EV novice, my recent experience with the BYD Atto 3 electric road trip has provided invaluable insights into the world of EVs and highlighted the key lessons learned along the way.

Efficiency and Range anxiety:

One of the most significant takeaways from my journey was the importance of understanding an EV’s efficiency and range capabilities. Range anxiety, the fear of running out of battery power mid-journey, is a common concern for EV drivers. The BYD Atto 3’s impressive range of 300 kilometers on a single charge, combined with its energy-efficient technology, helped alleviate any apprehensions I had about long-distance travel. Nevertheless, it is crucial to plan routes and charging stops in advance to ensure a stress-free journey.

Charging Infrastructure:

The availability and reliability of charging infrastructure play a pivotal role in facilitating EV adoption. During my road trip, I came across numerous charging stations conveniently placed along major highways and in urban areas. Most notably, the BYD Atto 3’s fast charging capability allowed me to recharge the battery from 0% to 80% within 30 minutes, making charging pit stops efficient and hassle-free. This experience highlighted the need for continuous investment and expansion of charging infrastructure to encourage widespread EV adoption.

Driving Dynamics and Performance:

Contrary to popular belief, driving an EV can be just as engaging as driving a traditional internal combustion engine car. The instantaneous torque from the electric motor provided a responsive and smooth driving experience. The BYD Atto 3’s compact size and agile handling made it a breeze to navigate city streets and narrow lanes. The absence of gear shifts and minimal noise further enhanced the driving experience, providing a serene and peaceful ambiance inside the vehicle.

Environmental Impact:

One of the primary motivations behind embracing EV technology is its positive impact on the environment. Being completely emissions-free, the BYD Atto 3 significantly contributes to reducing air pollution and combating climate change. Witnessing this first-hand during my road trip not only reinforced my belief in the importance of driving green, but it also sparked a sense of responsibility for a sustainable future.

Affordability and Cost of Ownership:

Despite the initial higher purchase price, owning an EV can be more cost-effective in the long run. The absence of fuel costs and reduced maintenance requirements significantly contribute to lower overall ownership expenses. Additionally, governments and authorities are implementing various incentives and subsidies to promote EV adoption, making them more affordable for consumers. My experience with the BYD Atto 3 showcased the economic viability of EVs and further emphasized their potential to revolutionize the automotive industry.


The BYD Atto 3 electric road trip proved to be an eye-opening experience, shedding light on the various aspects of EV ownership. From range anxiety to charging infrastructure, driving dynamics to environmental impact, and cost of ownership to affordability, the journey offered valuable lessons to any EV novice. It left me with one resounding conclusion – the future of electric mobility is bright, and EVs are here to stay. As we collectively strive for a greener tomorrow, embracing electric vehicles is not only a necessity but also an opportunity to shape a sustainable and cleaner future.