Report to InfoTimes, Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD is making impressive strides in Southeast Asia, not only leaving strong rivals like Tesla far behind but also dominating the market share in the region. Currently, in the local market, at least one out of every four electric vehicles is a BYD.
Industry analysts point out that BYD’s competitive advantage lies in its affordability and high value for money. Early on, the company partnered with large enterprises and conglomerates in Southeast Asia, adopting a distribution model to sell its vehicles. This approach allowed BYD to gradually expand its influence, understand the preferences of Southeast Asian car owners, and navigate the complex local regulations without running afoul of them.
According to TrendForce, in Q2, BEVs alone posted sales of 2.151 million units, marking 39.3% growth YoY. While Tesla maintains the lead with a market share of 21.7%, but BYD trails closely behind with a boosted share of 16.2%. In PHEVs, with the registering sales of 876,000 units in Q2—a striking 52.9% YoY increase. Astonishingly, about 66% of these sales hailed from the Chinese market. In this segment, BYD continued its lead with a whopping 36.5% market share.
In fact, this sales model is not something BYD pioneered. Japanese automakers employed a similar strategy decades ago when entering Southeast Asia. Collaborating with local businesses in a united front, as opposed to competing directly with Tesla, set BYD’s marketing approach apart.
Data reveals that BYD has forged partnerships with various Southeast Asian entities, including Sime Darby, a conglomerate with over a century of history in Malaysia and Singapore, Bakrie & Brothers in Indonesia, Ayala, a renowned conglomerate in the Philippines, and Rever Automotive in Thailand.
Automobile sales consultancy firm Urban Science believes that BYD’s collaboration with prominent local conglomerates helps establish a stable foothold before gaining fame. When Southeast Asian consumers have reservations about Chinese-made cars, knowing that well-known large corporations are involved should provide reassurance, particularly in terms of after-sales service.
Recently, BYD has invested nearly $500 million in building a new factory in Thailand. Starting in 2024, it aims to produce 150,000 electric vehicles annually and export them to various Southeast Asian and European countries. AC Motors, a subsidiary of the Philippines’ Ayala Group, plans to establish more than ten BYD service centers in the Philippines within the next 12 months.
AC Motors emphasizes that the initial focus of its operations is on building brand confidence and encouraging more people to consider buying electric vehicles. Some individuals may have concerns about running out of power with electric cars or find their prices too high.
Currently, Tesla has only opened two stores in Singapore, which caters to a higher-income demographic. However, Tesla is also actively recruiting in Thailand and Malaysia. Leveraging Elon Musk’s personal global influence, Tesla can operate directly toward consumers after leaving the United States, a strategy that sets it apart from other automakers.
To increase its visibility, BYD has partnered with Sime Darby Group to launch five BYD by 1826 centers in Singapore, combining car showrooms with delicious restaurants. This innovative approach aims to attract more people to discover the BYD brand through fine dining and, in turn, become part of BYD’s growing community of car owners.