As the year comes to an end, it is good to take a look at the players that have changed the automotive industry. While global markets saw mixed results in terms of sales volumes and the shift from combustion engine cars to all-electric cars slowed down, there was one brand that outperformed everyone and is set to play an important role in the new year. And it is not Tesla.

BYD Auto, the Chinese brand founded 20 years ago, is in my opinion the star of 2023. Over the course of the year, this carmaker has become a trending topic in many countries around the world. It has definitively changed China's role in the global automotive market and put it at the centre of the discussion on the adoption of electric vehicles.

Prophet at home

The most important achievement of BYD (Build Your Dreams) in 2023 is its ability to shine at home and have a good start in foreign markets. BYD is not only succeeding in China, but is rapidly climbing the rankings in many countries.

BYD sales chart in China from 2015 to October 2023 - graphic

At home, BYD is the most popular brand, surpassing two giants such as Volkswagen and Toyota. According to JATO data, the Chinese manufacturer sold 1.92 million new cars between January and October 2023, up 58 per cent from 1.21 million units sold in the same period in 2022.

The strong growth looks very solid compared to the pale 0% recorded by the Volkswagen brand with 1.75 million units and the -7% recorded by Toyota with 1.37 million units.

The climb abroad

The results abroad are equally impressive. Despite being a totally new brand for those markets and considering the lack of awareness this entails, BYD was able to register more than 11,000 electric cars in Europe in the first 10 months of this year.

This means that this Chinese brand has overtaken brands such as Jeep, Mazda, Jaguar or DS in the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) ranking. BYD still needs a lot to become a real game changer in Europe. However, it is on its way to gaining a larger market share.

The most popular electric car in the world's largest EV market Jan-Oct 2023 - graphic

BYD was the best-selling electric car brand in Brazil, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It was the second most popular in Australia and New Zealand. We are talking about very different markets with different revenue capacities. This is BYD's real potential: its ability to create vehicles for global markets, unlike Tesla and the legacy manufacturers with their products.

Rich product portfolio

The other key element that explains BYD's rapid growth is its extensive product portfolio. It is currently the car brand with the largest number of electric models on the market. BYD covers the city-car segment, the B- saloon, C- saloon, D- saloon and E- saloon segments. And its SUV offering includes many different small, compact and medium-sized models. The broad product range is another element that gives BYD an edge over global competitors.

BYD market share on BEV passenger car sales Jan-Oct 2023 - graphic

What will happen in the future?

Taking advantage of its international (i.e. non-Chinese) name, BYD is set to gain even greater appeal in 2024 through the introduction of more competitive models in more segments. This brand is set to become Tesla's real challenge. Mr Musk should be worried.

The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is Automotive Industry Specialist at JATO Dynamics.