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How did China's BYD become world's top NEV seller?

Zhao Chenchen


Editor's note: "Tech Please!" takes a brief look at all things science and technology in China, revealing trends you won't hear about anywhere else, from cutting-edge developments to the bizarre and whimsical in the world's most exciting tech market.

If you've ever taken an electric bus or a taxi in Shenzhen, you must be familiar with BYD. This local car brand has played a pivotal role in realizing the dream of having all-electric public transportation in the city. It's also proving to be a hit among private car owners throughout the nation and across the world. This rising star of China's auto industry sold more than 3 million new energy vehicles (NEVs) in 2023. It also surpassed Tesla in the fourth quarter for pure-electric vehicles.

How did it rise to become the top NEV seller in the world? I've come to its headquarters in Shenzhen to find out.

Starting as a battery maker, BYD was poised to be a champion from the very beginning. After surviving the Asian financial crisis, it became the world's largest producer of nickel-cadmium batteries in 2003, while it also made nickel-metal hydride and lithium-iron batteries. At the peak of its battery business, it chose to venture into car manufacturing. In 2022, it abandoned all traditional fuel vehicles and started focusing on electric vehicles only.

It's now capable of producing EV batteries in-house. It also has the know-how of all main automaking components, from electric motors to chassis. 

Its famous "blade battery" is perhaps the safest and the most efficient lithium iron phosphate battery for electric vehicles. Its safety is achieved by the longer and flatter design of each blade-shaped battery, which also improves space utilization. It's also less likely to catch fire when it experiences any form of impact.

Apart from the blade battery, BYD is also marching into the production of sodium-ion battery that is considered a cheaper and safer option for electric vehicles.

BYD's rise to the global stage mirrors the recent growth of China's car manufacturing industry. In 2023, China achieved a remarkable record of producing and selling over 30 million automobiles, which includes 1.2 million NEV exports. Alongside BYD, other emerging EV manufacturers like Nio, XPeng and Li Auto are propelling the industry forward with a diverse range of products, catering to various market segments and making electric vehicles more accessible to the masses thanks to a mature industrial chain in the country. 

As the world has rolled out waves of cutting fuel emissions, China is poised to meet the increasing demand for new energy vehicles.

Scriptwriter and host: Zhao Chenchen

Copy editor: Moosa Abbas

Cameraman and post production: Ding Zhiyang

Cover image designer: Qu Bo

Producer: Cao Qingqing

Chief editors: Wen Yaru, Wu Gang

Executive producer: Zhang Shilei

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