Homegrown car manufacturer BYD takes on global transportation

Founded primarily as a battery maker, BYD (“Build Your Dreams”) is currently the world’s largest car manufacturer, with its zero-emission vehicles flourishing globally. The Shenzhen-based brand not only exports hardware, but its infrastructure layout and new industry measurements as well.

After debuting its unmanned driving monorail system “SkyRail” in the northwest Chinese city of Yinchuan this January, BYD announced in May that it plans to build a second monorail in the Philippines after signing a memorandum with the central city of IIoilo. This environmental-friendly installation is joined by other countries outside of Asia as well, including Brazil, Morocco, and Cambodia.

Among BYD’s core sectors, its E-truck business is also expanding worldwide. In January, the Egyptian transportation bureau ordered 15 E-buses from BYD for its public transportation fleet. In May, it delivered its first E-truck 8TT to the Port of Oakland in California after settling a battery-charged bus factory there. Henceforth, it is fair to perceive that BYD is gradually phasing out a global preconception of low-quality Chinese-made autos and has entered the stage of commercial application of E-trucks.

According to Founder and President Wang Chuanfu, the domestic market for monorails will grow to be as large as USD 153 billion (RMB 10 trillion) and the international market will grow to USD 467 USD (RMB 3 trillion) in the next two decades. According to BYD, the technology could cut operational costs, 60% of which accounts for human labor.

Apparently, the pragmatic-minded local player BYD is flourishing under encouraging central policies. The National Development and Reform Commission included railway auto-driving into the state’s latest three-year-plan in order to upgrade the manufacturing industry. Meanwhile, the domestic EV market is dominated by local manufacturers, among which BYD holds an estimated 30% market share, while Tesla holds 6%. Though EVs make up less than 2% of current total auto sales in China, the government aims to gradually electrify all vehicles by 2030, according to Wang.

In 2010, the country began to heavily subsidize both EV manufacturers and buyers, hoping to improve its infamous air quality. Subsequently, China produced 770,000 EVs in 2017, with a 53% year-on-year increase, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Nonetheless, BYD, has remained a cost-efficient brand but is now witnessing an increasing number of players join the competition. At the Beijing auto show, its major EV rival, the state-owned BAIC, announced it was working to set up a “new energy car production base” in South Africa by the end of June. However, the prospect could not cancel out intractable challenges underneath.

BAIC general manager Zheng Gang said at the 2018 China Automotive Innovation Summit that there still remains ample room for EV companies to upgrade core technologies, while consumers continue speculating the market. Without committed deliberation from all parties, the entire EV industry might face a freefall in an upcoming post-subsidy era.

Hereto, we are still looking forward to witnessing how BYD might reshape its brand image whilst further taking on the unstable global market of new-energy automobiles.

(Top photo from unsplash.com)

Tongxu Cai
Tongxu Cai

Tongxu writes for AllTechAsia. She has a B.A. in Foreign Affairs from University of Virginia, She has a strong academic background in politics and history, especially the Sino-U.S, relations. She co-founded the only Chinese Theatre Group in her college and have travelled to 25 countries by far.

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