Source: BYD USA

Tesla’s dominance in the Electric Vehicle (EV) market is being challenged by Chinese manufacturer BYD – Build Your Dreams. In the first quarter of this year, BYD surpassed Tesla’s delivery of passenger EVs by over 125,000 vehicles becoming the top-selling EV brand in the world.

A New Global Leader

BYD disrupted the EV market by providing affordable options, especially hybrid cars for which it is known. This is unlike Tesla’s signature of Battery EVs, which has made it a social status among consumers.

Source: Statista

The car maker which is supported by Warren Buffet, has been expanding into international markets over the past two years, despite the struggle in some regions such as the US. The brand has accelerated its expansion from exporting around 56,000 vehicles in 2022 to selling over 10,000 vehicles abroad in May of this year alone.

In the first quarter of 2023, BYD supplied over 548,000 passenger EVs, including hybrids. The number exceeded Tesla’s total, which for the same time period shipped about 422,000 automobiles, as stated in its Q1 press release.

Source: EV Volume

BYD Excludes US From Global Expansion

However, these exports exclude the US which the corporation has so far kept out of its global strategy due to escalating U.S.-China trade tensions. BYD is presently exporting passenger vehicles to countries including Thailand, the UAE, Japan, Australia, Norway, the U.K., Germany, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

The company is also a favorite in Singapore, where it became the best-selling EV brand for the first five months.

Regarding the U.S. market, Stella Li, a senior vice president of BYD, said that it “isn’t under our current consideration”, when asked about it in an interview with Bloomberg. Additionally, according to the executive in charge of BYD’s global expansion, President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), may “slow down EV adoption in the U.S.” since it will make affordable EVs unavailable to American consumers.

This is not to mean that the company has not tried to venture into the US market. In fact, BYD has a history of localization in the United States. The company has announced that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation bought 130 of the business’s battery-electric buses in late 2019 hence it planned to assemble the buses in a factory in California.

According to the company, this was the largest single order of electric buses in the country up to that date. At the time, BYD stated that the complete vehicles will surpass the “Buy America” standards with more than 70% American material.

Unfortunately, the localization process would inevitably increase its production costs, which would eventually offset the discounts granted by the act. This would be counterproductive for the company which has been termed the “Toyota of EVs” due to its affordability.


Redefining The Market with Affordability

BYD Seagull | Source: Inside EVs

As such, the company has focused its efforts on leading the rest of the world. In an attempt to corner the global market for affordable EVs, the business presented the Seagull at the Shanghai auto show in April. This model, which won the market’s heart, is a small battery-powered hatchback that costs just over $11,000.

According to Bill Russo, founder and CEO of Shanghai-based advising company Automobility, “The Seagull was the shot heard around the world,” when it comes to the affordability of electric vehicles.

By providing an EV at that price point, BYD outperformed Tesla which has been speaking of a $25,000 car for years now (but still hasn’t gotten close to one). The price is made possible by the fact that BYD has command over the entire supply chain.

The Chinese company has been able to produce EVs at a competitive price. BYD is one of the largest producers of lithium batteries, an essential part of electric cars, it also provides to Tesla and other rivals.

Furthermore, it has benefited from government subsidies for ten years, just like other EV producers in China, as the country strives to phase out gasoline vehicles and become a global leader in renewable energy.

Not only is BYD reaching new heights, but the Chinese auto industry as a whole, has also reached a turning point this year. Based on reports from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China surpassed Japan to become the world’s top exporter of automobiles in the first quarter of this year, exporting 1.07 million vehicles.

Moreover, every fourth vehicle was an electric vehicle. This has made BYD the most popular electric vehicle on the market right now in Thailand, Israel, New Zealand, and Singapore.

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