An “Urgent Notification” has been issued to Australian owners of the Chinese BYD Atto 3 electric vehicle (EV), warning owners not to use child seats in the rear centre seat.
In an email sent to customers and reported on immediately by a number of local automotive outlets, BYD Automotive has warned BYD Atto 3 “owners and users that they should not use the rear centre seat to attach any child seat.”
A screenshot of the notification was shared in a BYD Owner’s group on Facebook, and there is no current listing on the government’s vehicle recalls site.
Nor is there any official confirmation through BYD Automotive’s Australian website, or through the social media channels of its local supplier, EVDirect.
Warning comes hot on heels of top NCAP rating
For reasons not noted, ANCAP said last week that “Australian-supplied BYD ATTO 3 vehicles are currently unrated” and that “ANCAP is working with BYD to finalise the applicability of a rating for Australian-specified models.”
As had been reported last week, the BYD Atto 3 does not have an accessible top tether child restraint anchor point in the rear centre seat. This particular issue may be unique to Australia, given that such a tether point is required for compliance for all five-seat passenger-vehicle in Australia.
Outlets who have been able to get their hands on the Atto 3 have noted there does appear to be provision for a top tether, but it remains hidden underneath the seat-back fabric.
Anchor fittings must be accessible without use of tools
However, even this would not comply with Australian Design Rules, which state as follows:
Clearance shall be provided around each ‘Upper Anchor Fitting’ to allow latching and unlatching, without the use of tools, of the ‘Attaching Clip’ to the ‘Upper Anchor Fitting’ when it is installed in the vehicle.
The key phrase in the rules obviously being “without the use of tools”. It also remains unclear exactly what lies beneath the seat-back fabric and whether a suitable “anchor fitting” can be found there.
It is unclear what is currently happening behind the scenes or why Australian regulations seem to have thrown up a safety roadblock to the Atto 3, while those in Europe and New Zealand did not.
However, if found in breach of the regulations, BYD may be forced to recall all Atto 3 models sold and delivered, while the company may be issued a “stop sale” notice to halt any future sales and deliveries.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.