China is the world's largest auto market. Who sells the most cars there? BYD? Who?
Conventional car companies are watching the earth move under them. They're competing with manufacturers that don't have the drag of union labor and legacy gas auto plants to deal with. They also are watching younger companies who understand battery tech and computer tech eat them for lunch.
Tesla and BYD don't hire union workers.
Made in China, for China
Volkswagen has lost its crown in China, as new data reveals that domestic manufacturer BYD has become China’s best-selling car brand for the first time, capturing 10.4% of the market in the most recent quarter.
Founded in 1995 by a Chinese chemist, BYD's original focus was on energy storage, with a large battery-factory in Shenzhen. But 8 short years later the company was able to position itself at the centre of China's burgeoning auto industry, after acquiring a small car manufacturer in the north of the country.
From there, BYD’s production of affordable combustion engine vehicles ramped up quickly. However, it wasn’t until BYD started to focus on electric vehicles — harnessing its years of experience in battery technology — that the company really made its mark. A $230m investment from Mr. Warren Buffett in 2008 helped supercharge the company’s growth, with BYD's relentless focus on manufacturing as much as possible “in-house” helping to keep costs down.
One example of BYD's ability to scale is the humble pandemic mask. During the height of the COVID outbreak, BYD began to assist in the production of masks. Within weeks the company had built an enormous supply chain, which was reportedly able to produce 50 million masks every single day at its peak.
Tesla beat BYD to become the first company to sell more than a million all-electric vehicles in a year — shipping 1.31m in 2022 — but BYD's growth suggests the race to 2 million might be a lot closer. The Chinese company's shipments in Q1 nearly doubled its efforts from last year.