BYD biggest in China, dethrones Volkswagen

On its home turf, Chinese car giant BYD has beaten Volkswagen and is currently the number one brand in sales. Also, the brand doubled its registrations worldwide, boosting its profit fivefold during the first quarter of 2023. At Auto Shanghai, Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume stated, “BYD is very, very strong”.

Reporting on its sales for the first quarter, BYD announced that it sold more than 440 000 units in its home country, surpassing Volkswagen for the first time, which managed to find 427 247 customers, losing its crown as the best-selling brand in the People’s Republic.

BYD president Wang Chuanfu said his ambition was to overtake the German car giant. As for New Energy Vehicles (NEV), or ‘electrified’ cars, including plug-in hybrids, one in five Chinese registrations carries the BYD logo. Last year’s growth was record-breaking, increasing 155% in a year-on-year comparison.

‘Not all about volume’

Blume, from his side, claimed that “it isn’t all about volume. We want successful activities, and it is important to be the best international group in China”. Still, the news must be sour for Wolfsburg.

Since 2008, its first year of sales publications for the country, Volkswagen has been the number one brand. But, likewise, the fleet sector’s corporate car business in Asia is less developed than in Europe.

Nonetheless, this market niche is further evidence of how fast BYD is surging, as it is the only Chinese brand in the top five for corporate car registrations in its home country.

It is also one of the few Chinese carmakers with a more significant presence across Asia, as its cars are sold in India, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, and more regional nations.

Most of its compatriot brands are only offered in Europe as export products. One in five BYD models is sold abroad. Present in dedicated markets in the EU, only battery-powered vehicles are on offer.

Bullish forecast

The aggressive expansion strategy pays off. Revenue for Shenzhen-based BYD has risen by 80% since the beginning of this year to 120 billion yuan (roughly 16 billion euros), while profit came in at 541 million euros.

Volkswagen is releasing first quarter results on May 4th but has already announced a bullish forecast for 2023, improving by 10 to 15% compared to 2022.

Throughout 2023, BYD plans to manufacture between 3 million and 3,7 million cars. The Warren Buffett-backed brand also makes batteries for other automakers. For example, Toyota’s first electric models have batteries and electric motors from the Chinese company.

Product offensive

Volkswagen is betting on the new ID.7 to save some lost terrain. This electric flagship, nicknamed the zero-emission Passat, bets on great interior comfort and new economic electric motors to woo local customers.

On the other side of the globe, BYD is raising the stakes with two new European entries: first is the Dolphin, which will be joined by the end of the year by the larger Tesla Model 3-rivaling Seal. So, the range in Belgium, one of BYD’s key markets, will leapfrog from three to five. That’s more than Tesla.


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