BEIJING, March 9 (TMTPOST)— China’s No.1 electric vehicle (EV) company BYD Co. finds a new way to boost expansion amid a heated price war ignited by Tesla.
Source: Visual China
BYD plans to launch new commercial models in markets including China, Japan and Europe in the coming three years, and has developed a budget of more than US$20 billion for its commercial vehicle unit by 2025, mainly funding research, product development and capacity expansion, the Wall Street Journal cited people with knowledge of the matter on Wednesday.
The automaker, backed by legendary billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is well-known for passenger cars and its commercial vehicle business focuses on buses. The first two months of the year saw a shift emerged as it sold 2,774 commercial cars in total, more than ten times of sales the same period a year ago.
It is reported that BYD estimated sales of the commercial vehicle to recover in China even the national new energy vehicle (NEV) purchase subsidy policy expired at the end of 2022. Such subsidies helped NEVs increase to 26% of new passenger car registrations in China in 2022, compared with 6% two year earlier. ING Group expected the percentage this year to be slightly up to 27.5%.
Tesla’s Chinese rivals just posted rally from massive slowdown in delivery. BYD sales in February jumped 119.37% from a year earlier, compared with a 62.44% growth in previous month. Aion, Li Auto and NIO surged 253%, 97.5% and 98.3% respectively. Sales were fueled by automakers’ big promotion including price cuts, as well as economic simulative measures unveiled by local governments, China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) analyzed.
The news about BYD’s commercial vehicle plan came days after it started its first round of price cuts this year, though without official announcement. The Shenzhen-based company has lowered prices of Dynasty Series sold in China for inventory clearance, Shanghai Securities Journal, the state-owned national newspaper, learned in late February. Buyers of some popular models now can enjoy several- thousand-yuan discounts, staff at a sales store in Minhang district, Shanghai, confirmed to the paper. And according to salesperson at the Dynasty showroom in Beijing, the price of 2021 version of BYD’s flagship Han was dropped by RMB20,000 the 2021 version of another EV model Qin down by RMB15,000, and the store can offer the discount between RMB6,000 to RMB8,000 for purchases of latest version.
Tesla slashed price by up to 13% in China on January 6, its second promotion through direct cuts in more than two months. The starting price of Model Y and Model 3 sold in China accordingly were down to new low, about 43% and 30% cheaper than those on sale in U.S. Soon after the move, Tesla lowered prices across the U.S. Europe, the Middle East and Africa by as much as 20% on January 12, expanding its price war globally.
Tesla’s massive cuts turned Model 3 and Model Y, its two flagship models in China, into direct competition with Han and Tang, BYD’s two popular models in Dynasty series, and BYD had to respond with the same move for it has witnessed decline in sales in short term since Tesla’s cuts nearly two months ago, analysts in the auto industry pointed out. However, BYD can better absorb shocks from price cuts than many EV startups in China for it also makes EV batteries and has a large profit margin, analysts noted.
Following Tesla’s cuts, Chinese automaker Seres Group announced to trim prices by RMB 30,000 for two SUV EV models co-developed with Huawei. Xpeng announced to offer a new round of price cuts between RMB20,000to RMB36,000 for three EV models. Nio Inc. was reported to offer massive price cuts up to RMB100,000 for versions of ES6 and ES8 updated in 2022.