BYD: Tesla’s Chinese Rival Revolutionizes French Electric Car Market


The rival of the world leader arrives with luxurious electric cars and is preparing to market in France the affordable model that customers expect.

Let’s go ! The Chinese BYD launches its electric cars on the roads of France. Challenger of Tesla, the world leader in battery-powered vehicles, the Shenzhen manufacturer had already been talked about when he came with great fanfare to the Paris Motor Show last October. Ministers and leaders, Carlos Tavares the boss of Stellantis in the lead, were alarmed at the risk of unfair competition from Chinese manufacturers, eligible for the French ecological bonus, vis-à-vis European manufacturers.

These arguments have not changed the conquest strategy of BYD and its compatriots SAIC (MG) or Geely. BYD is rolling out its battle plan as planned. Thursday in Aix en Provence, its leaders came to meet journalists and partners with whom they will set up their offensive.

Soon an affordable small Sedan

They focus first on the value for money of their top-of-the-range models. Contrary to what many imagined, BYD markets luxury vehicles in Europe. The prices of the first models that arrived in France a few weeks ago vary from 44,000 euros for the Atto 3 compact SUV, to 71,000 euros for the Han luxury sedan or the Tang, a large 7-seater SUV. But BYD will release a new card in its game: the Dolphin, a smaller electric sedan (4.29 meters long) with a 60KWh battery (427 km of autonomy) at only 28,990 euros, or less than 24,000 euros once the ecological bonus has been deducted. This model is aimed at the largest customer segment in France and most of Europe. What seriously worry Renault, Citroën, Volkswagen… who promise to launch this type of electric model whose production would be based in Europe.

BYD has plenty of assets to win the affordable electric vehicle game. Firstly because it is the world’s third largest manufacturer of electric batteries behind its compatriot CATL and Korea’s LG. It can therefore supply its assembly plants on advantageous terms, whereas the major Western groups are dependent on their suppliers, who are mainly Chinese or Korean. BYD has developed its own cobalt-free LFP batteries. Their recharge time can go from 30% to 80% in less than 30 minutes and the battery management system is based on the manufacturer’s long experience.

Objective: twenty points of sale from 2023

Another good point for the Chinese giant: a distribution network inspired by the strategy of its compatriot SAIC, owner of the MG brand, one of whose models – the MG4 – is today in 6th place in sales of electric vehicles. in Europe behind the Dacia Spring. Aware that after-sales is essential to convince and reassure customers, BYD weaves a distribution and after-sales network before the arrival of its vehicles.

Its objective is to have opened around twenty points of sale with local and national partners (ByMyCar, Emil Frey France, etc.) by 2023 and a hundred by 2025. Before France, the Chinese company has already deployed its concessions everywhere in Europe (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain Portugal). He will soon settle in Italy.

BYD will not just import its vehicles. The manufacturer, which already builds electric buses in Hungary, is looking for a European site to manufacture its cars. Tipped to take over Ford’s German plant, BYD gave it up. The giant has not yet made its decision. France, Spain or Germany are still in competition.

In the first quarter of the year, BYD sold 264,647 all-electric cars and 283,270 plug-in hybrids, nearly doubling the volume sold last year. By comparison, the Volkswagen group, world number two behind Toyota, sold 70,000 100% electric vehicles during the same quarter.

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