BYD is expanding into Southeast Asian markets and hopes to take market share away from Japanese automakers who currently dominate car sales in the region.
According to The Korea Economic Daily nine out of every ten vehicles sold in Southeast Asia come from Japanese automakers. But that may be about to change as BYD launches cheap EV models in the region.
In March The Japan Times visited the Bangkok International Motor Show to get a sense of how consumer sentiment is shifting in Southeast Asia. The Japan Times says that visitors streamed into the BYD sales booth.
A 21-year-old Thai business owner who decided to purchase one of BYD’s vehicles said: “I have a Honda now that costs me up to 8,000 baht ($A355) for fuel per month. For the BYD, I’ll pay just 1,000 baht ($A44) in electricity costs.
“BYD is reliable because of its achievements (in China),” said a Thai Airways International pilot, 47, who also signed a purchase contract to buy a vehicle at the booth.
The Japan Times says during the 12-day run of the motor show, automakers who participated sold roughly 43,000 cars. Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. took the lion’s share as the top two petrol and diesel car sellers, with many other Japanese carmakers ranking in the Top 10.
Despite BYD displaying only its Atto 3 model, it came ninth with about 2,700 sales orders.
At 1.2 million baht ($A53,1200) BYD’s Atto 3 is competitive to petrol cars thanks to subsidies provided by the Thai government.
In April BYD launched its much anticipated Seagull in Thailand for just 407,000 baht ($A18,000). At less than half the price of the ATTO 3, the compact EV will be a very attractive option for Thai customers.
BYD sold 1.86 million EVs and plug in hybrids in 2022 however only 56,000 of those were exported meaning 97% of all BYD’s sales were in the Chinese market in 2022. As BYD ramps its production it’s now looking to expand exports into Southeast Asia and Europe. A move that may spell big trouble for Japanese automakers.
BYD entered the Thailand market in 2022 and is rapidly developing sales networks in other Southeast Asian countries.
Liu Xueliang, who heads the company’s operation in the region told The Japan Times “Compared with in China, we still have a long way to go. We would like to add more models as we see how the market responds.”
In March BYD also commenced construction of a new factory in Thailand, its first outside of China. The new factory pans on producing 150,000 vehicles in 2024.
Daniel Bleakley is a clean technology researcher and advocate with a background in engineering and business. He has a strong interest in electric vehicles, renewable energy, manufacturing and public policy.