Here we go! China's BYD launches its electric cars on France roads. Challenger of Tesla, the world leader in battery vehicles, the Shenzhen manufacturer had already been talked about during his visit to the Paris Motor Show last October. Ministers and leaders, Carlos Tavares the boss of Stellantis in the lead, were alarmed by the risk of unfair competition from Chinese manufacturers, eligible for the French ecological bonus, vis-à-vis European industrialists.
These arguments have not changed the strategy of conquest of BYD and its compatriots SAIC (MG) or Geely. BYD unfolds 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 a small affordable sedan
They focus first on the value for money of their high-end models. Contrary to what many imagined, BYD markets luxury vehicles in Europe. The prices of the first models 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 from its game: the Dolphin, a smaller electric sedan (4.29 meters long) with a battery of 60KWh (427 km of autonomy) at only 28,990 euros, or less than 24,000 euros once the ecological bonus is deducted. This model is aimed at the largest customer segment in France and most of Europe. Enough to seriously worry Renault, Citroën, Volkswagen... who promise to launch this type of electric model whose production would be based in Europe.
BYD has many 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 the Korean LG. It can therefore supply its assembly plants on advantageous terms while large Western groups are dependent on their mainly Chinese or Korean suppliers. BYD has developed its own cobalt-free LFP batteries. Their charging time can increase from 30% to 80% in less than 30 minutes and the battery management system relies on the manufacturer's long experience.
Objective: about twenty points of sale by 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 now 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 goal is to have opened by 2023 about twenty points of sale with local and national partners (ByMyCar, Emil Frey France ...) and a hundred by 2025. Before the France, the Chinese had already deployed its concessions throughout Europe (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain Portugal). He will soon settle in Italy.
BYD isn't just going to import its vehicles. The manufacturer, which already builds electric buses in Hungary, is looking for a European site to manufacture its cars. Approached to take over Ford's German plant, BYD has given up. The giant has not yet made its decision. France, Spain and Germany are still competing.
In the first quarter of the year, BYD sold 264,647 100% electric cars and 283,270 plug-in hybrids, nearly doubling last year's volume. By comparison, the Volkswagen Group, number two worldwide behind Toyota, sold 70,000 100% electric vehicles in the same quarter.