BYD continues expansion to UK – could it pass Tesla in global BEV sales this year as projected?

Having already expanded into several countries throughout Europe, Build Your Dreams (BYD) has announced that sales of its EVs will begin in the UK this quarter. As the veteran Chinese automaker continues to expand its BEV production and sales presence around the globe, we wonder if 2023 is the year that BYD Auto usurps Tesla for the top spot in global sales.

BYD Auto is the automotive subsidiary of BYD Company founded two decades ago to develop and produce passenger cars, buses, trucks, and forklifts for China. More recently, the company has begun manufacturing rechargeable batteries and eBikes while shifting its manufacturing focus to BEVs and plug-in hybrid EVs.

In fact, BYD produced its final combustion vehicle in March of 2022, refocusing its business on a future that is not only entirely electric, but is globally recognized. This past summer, BYD shared plans to begin selling its EVs in the Japanese market. Just ten days later, the company followed up by promising EV deliveries in Germany and Sweden before the end of 2022.

With a current sales presence in the countries above plus Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium, BYD capped off the year by sharing plans for at least one, if not two, manufacturing facilities in Europe to support these markets and beyond. BYD continues to gain momentum headed into 2023, following a very successful year prior.

Now, the automaker plans to begin sales in the UK, another huge global market and a growing one for EVs especially. One where BYD can continue to try and compete against the current sales leader, Tesla. Even in China, BYD has pulled no punches in stating its BEVs are designed to compete against Tesla, and some have projected the former will overtake the latter in global EV sales this year.

BYD already overtook Tesla in 2022 if you count PHEV sales

That’s true, but this is Electrek, so we’re gonna focus on BEV sales. By beginning UK sales this quarter with the ATTO 3 seen above, BYD has added one of Europe’s largest market to its order sheet – one that saw BEV models account for roughly 17% of deliveries in 2022, overtaking diesel for the first time ever.

When you combine BYD’s six countries in Europe beginning EV sales with its current and expanding markets in Asia and Australia, then recognize the company’s widening manufacturing footprint, it’s hard to argue it’s recipe for success. At the very least, we’ll be able to look back and say BYD swung for the fences, but will it be enough to overtake Tesla?

According to BloombergNEF, BYD already overtook Tesla in global EV sales last year, but only if you count PHEVs and we’re simply not going to do that. We would like to point out, however, that Bloomberg is still projecting BYD to overtake Tesla in BEV sales as early as this year.

BNEF was the first to say that betting against Tesla has never fared well for those naysayers, but BYD’s 2022 sales numbers cannot be ignored. The Chinese automaker sold 911,140 BEVs last year, compared to 321,000 in 2021. That’s an 184% sales increase YOY.

The outlet expects Tesla’s BEV sales to grow by 30-40% this year on the wings of ramped up production at GigaBerlin and Austin, but it may come down to pricing and how many consumers Tesla can steal away from BYD and vice-versa. Despite BYD’s global expansion, much of its sales strength still comes from the Chinese market, another region Tesla EVs are sold. BYD’s distribution of sales could shift, however, as it gets its European manufacturing operational and assumedly expands to more and more markets.

Could BYD bring the fight to Tesla’s home turf in the US? The company isn’t showing its hand yet, so the immediate focus appears to be on Europe and Asia for now. But that could prove interesting in the future and could really put the BYD brand on the global map as a BEV automaker to be considered.

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