After adding Stellantis-dealer Vandecasteele Group in Kortrijk, Chinese carmaker BYD (Build Your Dreams) is expanding to Hasselt as its fifth dealership in Belgium, under the wings of Renault-Dacia specialist Paesmans Auto Group. The Chinese carmaker is looking for five more dealerships in Belgium and Luxembourg.
BYD, China’s biggest EV maker, is imported by international car group Inchcape, Belgium’s all-time Toyota-Lexus importer. Inchcape itself runs three BYD dealerships under its own brand name in Brussels (Zaventem), Antwerpen (Wijnegem), and Ghent (St-Martens Latem).
For Renault Belgium, it must be kind of a shock to see one of its most brand-loyal dealer groups, Paesmans, taking the plunge with China’s biggest EV maker, which could be a fierce competitor in affordable EVs.
Six models for Europe
Last month, BYD announced bringing a sixth model to Europe, dubbed the Seal U, an SUV version of its compact sibling, the Seal sedan offered at €46 990. The first BYD landing in Belgium was the Atto 3, which, at €46 740 for a full-option version, succeeded in beating the Renault Mégane e-Tech (€42 757) to become Family Car of the Year 2023 in the VAB election.
Paesemans started in 1949 with a small local garage in Herk-de-Stad, becoming an official Renault dealer in 1952 and adding Renault’s Dacia brand later. Today, the group manages five dealerships with 70 employees in the Limburg province, next to Herk-de-stad also in Hasselt, Beringen, Hoeselt, and Bree. Yearly, some 3 000 new cars and 500 second-hand are sold.
Wilfried Paesmans told local newspaper Het Belang van Limburg he acquired the former Volvo garage in Hasselt just before the pandemic. They investigated several tracks to find a new destination for it, ultimately landing with BYD after contacts at the Brussels Motor Show.
According to BYD, Belgian family dealerships have a lot of interest in the new brand. No surprise, as they all were confronted with significant consolidation movements during the last years in dealerships of European car brands.
While Europe is investigating how it can stop the influx of ‘cheap’ – what they call over-subsidized – Chinese EVs, BYD has shown to be one of the most to fear as an ‘evasive species’.
In August, the Chinese car and battery maker unveiled that it had produced its fifth million ‘new energy vehicles’. That is, BEVs and PHEVs combined. The news broke shortly after the company crossed the three-million mark and surpassed Volkswagen as the number-one brand in China.
New energy vehicles in China use alternative drivelines, including hybrids with combustion engines. In Europe, the company only sells battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). BYD produced its first NEV in 2008, but its exponential growth defies expectations. It took the brand thirteen years to pass the mark of one million NEVs but not more than one year to achieve the second million. The previous goal post, three million units, took BYD half that time.
Tripling net profits
End of August, China’s best-selling EV brand announced tripling its net profit for the third quarter with a 6.82 billion yuan total (€0,86 billion) or a 144.7% increase. That’s impressive again, thanks to record deliveries but less than the first quarter, where profits fivefolded.
BYD sold 612 425 battery-only EVs in the first half, and 10% were exported worldwide, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. To compare, Tesla sold 889 015 EVs globally in the same period.