Chinese-owned automaker BYD has announced plans to build a factory in Europe in hopes of bringing its affordable EVs to the masses there. As the brand picks up steam in sales, it will break ground on its first European factory, with Hungary selected as the location. Still, it has some challenges to face: a new investigation from the European Union and a lack of solid brand recognition to compete with Tesla and European automakers.
Reuters spotted the news, which was reported in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, citing unnamed sources close to the automaker. Details about when and precise location haven’t yet been released, and so far, BYD hasn’t released a statement or responded to requests for comment.
Last month, the European Union launched a formal investigation into the “flood” of cheap EVs manufactured in China pouring into Europe, with a 13-month probe that could potentially result in import duties or other freeze-out measures. Still, BYD isn’t breaking stride, with executive vice president Stella Li telling Bloomberg, “We are a publicly traded company that needs to be managed with transparency and open to sharing information.” Li said, “So we don’t worry about any investigation going on in Europe.”
BYD’s own target is to sell 3 million plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars this year, and it is gaining on Tesla in all-electric sales. Last month’s figures bring the total to 2.37 million EV sales year to date, which is solidly on track to make the 2023 goal.
In 2021, BYD launched in Europe via Norway, with its Atto 3 becoming the best-selling EV in Sweden. BYD also has a foothold in Germany, with 15 dealer locations, and it’s targeting 50 in the medium term. The automaker also recently made a deal with rental company Sixt to provide 100,000 EVs through 2028 – all part of a strategy to gain some brand recognition among Europeans. Next up, it is eyeing a distribution network with conventional car dealers.
BYD is also making moves in Latin America, with company executives, including BYD’s chair and founder Wang Chuanfu, having toured the region last month.
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