The rise and rise of BYD

It has been a phenomenal couple of years for BYD. The company seems to have burst onto the world stage from nowhere. However the reality is that BYD has simply spread its wings and branched out from China, where it has been a potent force for years.

While BYD is best known for its ‘new energy vehicles’ – fully-electric or hybrid – it is a huge conglomerate operating in sectors as diverse as semiconductors, mobile handset components, or buses and public transport. Then of course it’s also a real leader in battery manufacture and supply, where it sells its technology including the breakthrough BYD Blade Battery to other car manufacturers such as Tesla or KG Mobility (Ssang Yong).  These batteries are more efficient, safer and cheaper than most alternatives.  

The Shenzhen-headquartered manufacturer’s market capitalization of $91 billion tops that of GM and Ford combined.

The BYD Sea Lion 07, just announced, could be a credible rival to the Tesla Model Y.  Release dates are still to be confirmed.

Looking just at its new energy vehicles, BYD has now produced more than 6 million ‘new energy vehicles’ – that’s a huge number considering the company is still young. Indeed, BYD’s sales in the first 10 months of this year climbed by 70% to 2.3 million units. There was a 39% year on year increase in October alone to 301,833 from 217,816 a year earlier. It is absolutely dominant in China, commanding more than 25% of the EV market in that huge country.

And if that’s not enough, BYD is expected to sell more cars globally than Tesla in the last three months of 2023, having nearly surpassed the long-term market leader in Q3.  But it probably doesn’t make sense to goad the companies into fierce rivalry; BYD is way ahead in China, Tesla is currently way ahead in the USA (and many other countries). Ultimately, if each company is driving conversion to less polluting vehicles in these largest markets, it has to be good news for everyone.

BYD is not just selling cars out of China though.  It is also setting up local operations and even manufacturing plants. It has announced a huge new factory in Hungary to supply European markets. And it’s “considering” a mega-factory in Yucatan, Mexico; the fact they are mentioning it means that it is almost certainly going to happen. The company’s bus manufacturing plant in California gives it a powerful seat in the US. 

What’s BYD’s winning formula?

Given the huge success of BYD, there’s just one million dollar (sorry, multi-billion dollar) question: what are they doing so right?

A key aspect is that its diversified business model gives it very deep pockets that allow long-term thinking, substantial investment in R&D and an ability to expand aggressively. It also lets them weather price competition. It’s vertical integration working at its best. 

This translates into being able to provide products that customers want. And my goodness, they really do want them.  Just one example of this comes from Australia.  When the BYD Seal launched there, the website crashed as 50,000 people simultaneously tried to get in on the reservation action.

Right across the world there is a massive buzz about the brand and the cars. Consumers simply seem to love BYD.

The new BYD Showroom & Discovery Center at Dubai Festival City is a unique space that showcases the company and its cars.

One reason for this is the low pricing for really good cars.  And BYD has a large range of vehicles to suit every requirement, from the family-friendly BYD ATTO 3 to the more luxurious BYD HAN sedan.  And then there’s the playful but practical ‘Ocean’ range which includes its models named after sea creatures including the Seal, Dolphin and exciting new Sea Lion.  This new car, only officially announced on 17 November, is a striking SUV that looks as though it could be a truly credible rival to the Tesla Model Y. 

The cars also have very good driving range, thanks to the BYD Blade Battery mentioned earlier. The BYD ATTO 3 has a range of up to 420km and the BYD HAN boasts a range of up to 475km. These ranges make the cars very credible alternatives to petrol vehicles. This is crucial in convincing drivers to make the switch to electric.

They are also comfortable for the drivers and passengers, with pleasant interior styling and good sound-proofing and ride quality.  

If safety’s your concern, BYD is also coming up tops, with five star safety test accreditation everywhere across the world.

And we shouldn’t forget that switching to an EV is a more sustainable choice.  This is rapidly rising up the list of considerations for motorists. Being an ‘electric native’ brand seems to give a bit of an advantage in how consumers choose their next car, as the manufacturers tend to have built their companies on net zero principles from day one. This is very appealing to certain buyers.

BYD is also spawning other car brands to appeal to different segments.  FCB (Fang Cheng Bao) is going after those who prefer large 4x4s. The FCB Bao 5 (otherwise known as the BYD Leopard 5) is a large plug-in hybrid SUV. It had more than 10,000 sales in just three days after it launched on 9 November. A smaller Bao 3 expected to follow if the leaks are correct.  The BYD magic is rubbing off.

What’s been the response to BYD in UAE?

BYD came to the UAE earlier this year, through a partnership with Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company (AFEMC).

The pre-sale of the BYD ATTO 3 was also incredibly popular, with 3,000 registrations and 153 actual purchase deposits before the car was officially available.  It has quickly become one of the most popular electric cars in the country.

The BYD HAN has also seen strong interest, with the car now available to order.

While these are the only two BYD models currently available, other models are set to follow in 2024.  

To cater to the demand, AFEMC and BYD, have recently unveiled a flagship BYD Showroom & Discovery Center at Dubai Festival City. This new facility promises to be “a beacon of automotive excellence and sustainable technology in one of the UAE’s prime retail locations”.

Hasan Nergiz, Managing Director of Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company, is enthusiastic about the cutting-edge space. “The launch of this showroom marks a significant milestone in our journey with BYD,” he says. “This facility is not just a showroom; it’s a commitment to sustainable mobility solutions and an embodiment of our vision for the future of the automotive industry in the UAE.”

What’s next for BYD?

It’s impossible to predict exactly what BYD is going to do next.  The company is full of surprises.  

For example, just last month, they unveiled plans to build their own ship to transport 7000 cars at a time.  There’s that vertical integration in action again.

What’s certain, however, is that their ambition remains undimmed.  We can expect new cars, new technologies, higher sales and expansion into more markets.

It’s a company in a great hurry and there’s every indication that their foot is firmly on the accelerator.

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30 Nov, 2023