BYD beats Volkswagen as China’s best-selling car brand
BYD Co. is China’s best-selling car brand for the first time, dethroning Volkswagen AG as it continues its meteoric rise. The Warren Buffett-backed electric-vehicle maker leapfrogged its German rival in the first quarter, selling more than 440,000 cars in China, according to automotive industry data compiled by Bloomberg. BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu said last month he aimed to overtake Volkswagen by the end of 2023.
Volkswagen had been the best-selling brand among automakers in China since at least 2008, when data from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center became available. Vehicle sales under the Volkswagen brand totaled 427,247 units in China in the first quarter, with EVs accounting for only 6%.
The trend reflects the declining influence of legacy foreign brands as Chinese EV makers muscle in with increasingly sophisticated — and affordable — models.
“BYD is very, very strong," Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume said during an event at the Shanghai auto show this month. “In the end, not everything is about volume. We want to have a successful business, and it is more important to be the best international group here in China."
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Shenzhen-based BYD sold 1.86 million vehicles in 2022, more than it did in the previous four years combined. And it accounted for two in every five new-energy car sales in China in the first quarter.
BYD sold almost 550,000 cars globally in January-March, more than all of the passenger vehicle registrations in the UK in that period. The automaker has been intensifying its push overseas, prioritizing Europe, Latin America and markets around Asia. BYD doesn’t have any current plans to sell its electric passenger cars in the US, Wang said last month.
BYD has said it aims to sell at least 3 million vehicles this year, possibly as many as 3.7 million, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Joanna Chen.
The company is due to report first-quarter results Thursday. BYD’s shares are up 16% in Hong Kong this year, giving it a market value of about $95 billion versus Volkswagen’s $77 billion. Tesla Inc.’s stands at $515 billion.