In just 29 years, BYD has become one of the biggest players on the global automotive scene and the leading Chinese manufacturer of electrified cars. BYD's growth has been breathtaking and, in some ways, astonishing. A case study for those interested in the brand's industrial development and strategy.

Not just cars, in fact, but also batteries, also supplied to Tesla, and other types of mobility, public and private, as well as energy production and storage in general. To date, BYD can count on more than 30 industrial parks spread over several continents (a plant in Europe, in Hungary, has already been announced, and a second plant could be confirmed soon).

Tracing the steps that led the Chinese giant to become such a major player is also of interest to those who want to get to know the brand and the cars that have recently started to appear on our roads.

BYD, the story step by step

During a trip to Shenzen, where BYD is headquartered, I was able to identify some important milestones in the brand's history. Here are the main ones:

  • 1995 - The company was founded on 10 February by Wang Chuanfu, a chemist aged just 29, in the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, where it is still headquartered today. Its main activity is the production of rechargeable batteries.
BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

Wang Chuanfu (left) at Beijing Expo 2024

  • 1996 - Development and production of batteries using lithium-ion technology begins.

  • 1998 - Three years later, expansion begins: the first branch outside China is opened in the Netherlands.

  • 2000 - BYD opens its first industrial park in Kuichong, Shenzen, and becomes the first supplier of lithium-ion batteries to Motorola, then the world's leading phone company.

  • 2002 - The company is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, setting a record for the highest offer price per share at the time. Among the customers for its lithium-ion batteries, BYD can also boast Nokia. But that's not all: this was also the year in which it began producing semi-conductors.

  • 2003 - That's it, BYD enters the car market. The first car would not appear for another two years.

  • 2005 - Called the F3, it was the first car produced and sold by BYD. It is a classic three-box saloon with compact dimensions. The target of 10,000 units sold was easily achieved.
BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

La BYD F3

  • 2007 - Expansion continues unabated and the BYD Electronics division is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

  • 2008 - BYD manages to attract the attention of major investment groups, including Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. It was also the year of the launch of the F3DM, the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid vehicle. At the same time, diversification led the company into new energies and the development of a zero-emission ecosystem equipped with solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles.
BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

Warren Buffett is a major investor in BYD

  • 2009 - The product range expands: BYD begins producing buses, carriages for metro trains and forklifts powered by alternative energy.

  • 2010 - BYD and Daimler create a joint venture to develop zero-emission vehicles: the Denza sub-brand is born. Meanwhile, the first fleet of electric taxis is created with the e6 and the K9, the first electric bus, goes into production.
BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

BYD and Daimler create Denza joint venture

  • 2011 - BYD is listed on the Shenzen stock exchange. The first electric bus is finally ready to be marketed.

  • 2016 - With the BYD SkyRail project, the giant enters the rail transport industry.
BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

BYD SkyRail

  • 2017 - In Yinchuan, China, the first commercial SkyRail line is launched.

  • 2019 - The first SkyShuttle self-driving electric metro line is commissioned and BYD opens its global design centre. FinDreams, the massive battery production arm, is created.
BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

SkyShuttle in service in Singapore

  • 2020 - The BYD TOYOTA EV TECHNOLOGY CO joint venture is created with the Japanese carmaker. Series production of blade batteries begins. The Han electric saloon is launched.

  • 2021 - The DM-i plug-in hybrid technology is presented for the first time, along with the new platform for electric cars called e-platform 3.0.
BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

The BYD Seal U DM-i arrives in Europe and Italy in the first half of 2024

  • 2022 - The three millionth electrified car rolls off BYD's production lines and, at the same time, production of conventionally powered vehicles is halted.

  • 2023 - Two new sub-brands are created: YangWang, a high-performance luxury brand (I tested the extreme U8), and Fang Cheng Bao, which offers highly versatile top-of-the-range cars. It was also the year in which BYD celebrated its 6 millionth electrified vehicle.
BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

YangWang U8

BYD, the stages of its astonishing growth

FangCheng Bao Bao 5

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