BYD is stealing Toyota’s limelight in this key auto market with low-priced EVs

China’s largest EV maker, BYD, is quickly making a name for itself in overseas markets. Despite recently entering the Thai auto market, BYD has already surpassed several Japanese rivals in sales as it sneaks up on Toyota’s spotlight.

Japanese automakers have dominated the auto market in Thailand in recent years, with Toyota, Isuzu, and Honda currently the top-selling brands in the region.

Yet BYD, which entered the market in July 2022, is charging full steam ahead. BYD already accounts for over a third of EV sales and roughly 4% of new vehicle sales in Thailand, according to Autolife Thailand.

The Chinese EV maker surpassed Japanese competitors, including Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Suzuki, in total vehicle sales.

A big reason for BYD’s success in Thailand and other markets like Brazil, Columbia, and Israel is its low-cost pricing.

BYD may have an advantage

BYD can produce EVs much cheaper than traditional automakers, passing the savings on to customers. The automaker started as a battery company, later getting into cell phone assembly.

BYD’s ATTO 3 SUV (Source: BYD)

Today, BYD is the largest global supplier of rechargeable batteries, arguably the most critical component in the industry’s transition to EVs.

The company even outsources to other automakers, including Tesla, Toyota, Kia, and others. BYD is “more like an engineering company,” according to BYD America CEO Stella Li.

As such, the company has transformed into a heavily integrated conglomerate. With specific divisions for every component, BYD makes nearly part in-house. For example, on the Dolphin EV, BYD builds all parts-house except the tires and windows.

BYD Dolphin EV (Source: BYD)

BYD encroaching on Toyota’s Thailand market

In Thailand, Rever Automotive has exclusive dealership rights. The company is reportedly trying to convince dealers with less popular brands like Mazda to switch to BYD.

BYD’s Atto 3 (Yuan Plus in China) is the top-selling EV in Thailand, with prices around $30,000 to $33,000. Rever also sells the SEAL for around $36,000, while the low-cost Dolphin electric hatch is priced slightly under $20,000.

BYD SEAL (Source: BYD)

BYD’s EVs seem like a steal compared to other brands’ electric models. For example, Toyota’s bZ4X electric SUV costs around $50,000, Tesla’s Model 3 costs around $47,000, and even the Nissan LEAF costs $43,000 or more.

Toyota bZ4X electric SUV (Source: Toyota)

Electrek’s Take

Thailand is moving quickly to adopt electric vehicles, leaving those who don’t want to participate behind.

Thailand’s government wants 30% of vehicles built in the country to be electric by the end of the decade. EVs now account for over 10% of total auto sales in Thailand, up from around 1% last year.

Toyota recently tested its first electric truck in Australia. The HiLux BEV truck was built in Thailand and will be used to assemble a demonstration fleet of HiLux-based electric share taxis.

However, there’s no word on when it will launch, and Toyota is quickly falling behind in EV sales in the region.

BYD launched the Dolphin in Toyota’s home market of Japan last month, starting at ¥3.63 million ($24,200) with 250 miles range (400km). The Dolphin will join the Atto 3 as BYD’s second EV in the region as it looks to take on Toyota on its home turf. Toyota will need to get moving if it doesn’t want to risk falling further behind.

Source: Asia Times

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