The leading Chinese electric vehicle company, with origins as a battery maker, has posted two years of million-car growth in sales.
A saleswoman showing a car at a BYD showroom in Shenzhen, China. Over 80 percent of BYD’s sales are in China, but exports to Europe are expanding. Credit... Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
China’s BYD was a battery manufacturer trying its hand at building cars when it showed off its newest model in 2007. American executives at the Guangzhou auto show gaped at the car’s uneven purple paint job and the poor fit of its doors.
The company passed Tesla in worldwide sales of fully electric cars late last year. BYD is building assembly lines in Brazil, Hungary, Thailand and Uzbekistan and preparing to do so in Indonesia and Mexico. It is rapidly expanding exports to Europe. And the company is on the cusp of passing Volkswagen Group, which includes Audi, as the market leader in China.
BYD’s sales, over 80 percent of them in China, have grown by about a million cars in each of the past two years. The last automaker to accomplish that in even one year in the American market was General Motors — and that was in 1946, after G.M. had suspended passenger car sales during the four preceding years because of World War II.