Synopsis: BYD can accelerate EV transitions, starting with the Atto 3.
Many articles suggest Chinese EVs will soon take a huge slice of automotive market. What is rarely added is that “Chinese EVs” mostly means BYD EVs, at least as much as “Amercian EVs” mostly means “Tesla EVs”.
If your country had no USA EVs, then it is most likely the arrival of long time EV brand Tesla would have more impact than EV “startups” Rivian and Lucid, or EVs from legacy brands GM and Ford. From China, BYD is the long-time EV brand with production EVs from 2008, NIO and XPeng among the startups, and MG(SAIC) and Ora(GWM) the legacy products. For worldwide sales of EVs are very much dominated by Tesla and BYD, which means these are the companies driving the EV transition.
BYD has only just started to arrive in countries outside China in any significant way. The impact will vary, somewhat dependent on tariffs. For example, the more affordable Atto 3 overtook the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y creating a surge in EV sales in late 2022, while in the USA, the high tariff on EVs from China play a big role in only the most expensive 3 of the top 10 best-selling EV s in 2022 being available in the USA.
The usual tariffs trade-off applies: protecting local industry results in higher prices for consumers.
When the Atto 3 arrives in most markets it moves the price point of a top-selling EV. This has resulted in a noticeably contribution to a lift in EV sales in several markets.
Yes, the Atto 3 has reached number 3 globally.
If PHEVs sales are included, then the BYD Song is world #2, and the Tesla Model 3 is number 3, but these Song sales include more PHEV units than BEVs or ‘pure EVs’, and once the PHEV numbers are removed, the Tesla Model 3 rises to #2 and the BYD Atto 3 to #3.
Being only launched in 2022, there is no full year of sales data yet available, and the picture could change during 2023, but at least so far in the first two months 2023, this position is holding, and with the Atto 3 the first “global” model form BYD, the potential is strong.
A review of the Atto 3 can be found here, with this page focusing on sales, awards, and background on the brand/company.
Early 2023: #1 in sales in Israel, New Zealand, and Thailand, #3 in Australia.
In Israel and Thailand, the impact of the Atto 3 was most significant, as neither were markets where Tesla arrived in advance of BYD. In New Zealand, the arrival of the Atto 3 saw it overtake all other EVs in including Tesla, while in Australia, the Atto 3 rose to 3rd bestselling EV behind the Model 3 and Model Y in 2022, despite only being only having sales numbers from November and December.
- BYD became the sales champion of pure electric vehicles in China, Israel, and New Zealand in January 2023
- BYD became the sales champion of pure electric vehicles in Thailand in January 2023
- BYD Atto 3 again became the bestselling EV in Israel in Feb 2023
- Tesla’s sales surpassed BYD by 25 vehicles in New Zealand in February
Notable Atto 3 volume sales.
This is not in any way a complete list, but where articles about volume sales have attracted attention, they are added here.
- Reuters: Sixt agrees to purchase around 100,000 e-vehicles from China’s BYD
- Octopus Electric Vehicles To Buy 5,000 Vehicles From BYD In UK
- Stainless Steel Swimming Pool & Spa Technology Firm Polytherm Becomes 1st Fleet Customer For BYD ATTO 3 In Austria
- Mexico Orders 1,000 Electric Cars From BYD For Use As Electric Taxi Fleet
(more to be added)
This section still in draft form and collecting data.
- Awards in categories open to ICE vehicles.
- EV category Awards
BYD Atto 3 as contender for future world’s bestselling car?
The Tesla Model Y is already a contender in the race for world’s best-selling car, and I suggest the price-point of the Atto 3 gives it the potential to outsell the Model Y.
First, the points against the Atto 3:
- To be bestselling car, the Atto 3 has to outsell the Toyota Corolla and the Tesla Model Y.
- BYD has other models already on sale in a small number of international markets, and they are normally not volume sellers in those markets.
- The Atto 3 is not even the best-selling BYD model in China.
- BYD has stated the BYD Seal, not the Atto 3, to be their most significant vehicle.
Now, an overview of the counter arguments to those points:
- The Model Y is already close to overtaking the Corolla, and given the high price point, the Model Y could end up being a difficult sell against the Atto 3.
- “You’d be bonkers to spend another $30k on a base Tesla Model 3“, car reviewer.
- Neither Corolla, nor Model Y are the likely to remain contenders as best sellers.
- The BYD Atto 3 is the first global Model exported by BYD.
- Many initial BYD international sales were of high end BYD Models, or specialist market segment markets, and not targeting volume.
- The Atto 3 is bestselling BYD model in China that it looks, as outlined below.
- The Chinese market has differences from major export markets, which is one reason no plan has been announced to export the best selling BYD model in China, the BYD Song Plus.
- The BYD Seal, as a more expensive sports sedan, is a halo model for reviewers and enthusiasts, but is targeting a lower volume market segment.
- A key role of the BYD Seal is to help brand image, and help sell higher volume BYD models including Atto 3, Dolphin and Seagull
A 3rd wave EV will become World’s bestselling car: Atto 3 vs the rest.
A first it may sound a huge leap, but all things considered, this is possible. Consider how well the Tesla Model Y is selling despite being above the price point of or a normal contender for world’s bestselling car.
The Tesla Model Y is already battling with the Toyota Corolla for the title of world’s bestselling car, yet Elon musk predicts far greater sales for the Tesla 3rd wave EV.
So, Elon Musk is predicting a 3rd wave EV will become world’s best-selling car, the question whether someone else can get there before Tesla does, or more specifically, if the Atto 3 could get there first.
Bestselling vehicle requires a combination of two factors:
- A sufficient lead in sales in a vehicle segment.
- That segment being sufficiently popular.
The ‘catch 22’ being that the more popular the segment, the greater the incentive for competitive products. Despite the Corolla and Model Y being close in total sales numbers, the Tesla is far more dominant in an arguably smaller segment.
The lack of competitive EV models at the price point of the model Y, allows the one EV in its segment to be some dominant, that int can reach sales numbers comparable with the Corolla, which is both a small hatch and small sedan.
The Atto 3 competes in the ‘small SUV’ segment, which itself is not only already a very popular segment, but also gaining in popularity.
Despite the huge change in brand recognition during 2022 in just the few months since this page was first published, it will take more than just one more year before a BYD vehicle could become a global sales leader, and in that time BYD will need to bring updates and take the right steps to make the Atto 3 a real contender. Then these is the risk of politics playing a role. It is yet to be seen how the re-election of Xi Jinping impacts the possibility of a Chinese Tesla.
Currently, there are not enough variants of the Atto 3 to achieve its potential, even higher spec models, longer range and AWD variant would be required, plus addressing some of the points listed as ‘cons’ below. Address these points, manufacture in sufficient volume, and get the shipping under control, and then it would all come down to what are the other contenders.
Toyota Corolla: With both sedan and hatch variants, it is a little like Tesla using a single name for both the Model 3 and Model Y, and now Toyota has also released an ‘SUV’ Corolla, to complicate thing even further. The current Corolla is the 12th different generation of vehicles to wear the badge, at times with entirely different car in different countries all called ‘Corolla’. Eventually there will be an EV Corolla, and the question is more can Toyota produce a vehicle with the Corolla badge that will be the future leader? With a five-year product cycle, and the previous generation being released in 2018, there is a new version due soon, but it will not be an EV and with EVs eating into sales, it is not likely to retain the crown, and this is probably the start of the end for Toyota.
Tesla Model Y: An impressive vehicle, but the sales figures reflect a lack of competitively priced alternatives with an SUV body style. As more alternatives arise it is going to be very difficult for a vehicle at its price-point to be global bestseller.
The Tesla 2/A/B/U? The exact vehicle category for the new Tesla is unclear, but it will likely be a small sedan/hatch competing with the Toyota Corolla, and possibly named ‘2’, ‘A’, ‘B’ or even ‘U’, but could be anything that allows making a pun with the existing ‘S 3 X Y’ model designations.
The new Tesla has to achieve 3 things to become the world’s bestseller:
- It has to be sufficiently better than direct rivals.
- The segment has to be sufficiently popular.
- It has to reach the market in time.
Point 3, timing, is the key, and not only has timing already been a challenge for Tesla, in this case, given the new lower cost model will steal sales from the higher margin Model 3 and Model Y, early release could have a short-term negative impact on Tesla revenues.
BYD Seal: The BYD Seal does have updated technology and improved specs, but as a sedan with only 330 litres of rear luggage sapce and at a higher price than the Atto 3, may have a bigger impact on brand image as ‘halo’ model that it does on the sales charts. Being touted as a ‘Model 3’ rival is not that significant in terms of sales given the Model Y has taken over as the key vehicle for Tesla.
BYD Song Plus: Despite the Song selling in China at 2x the rate of the Yuan Plus (Atto 3 in China), Song numbers include a PHEV variant and Atto 3/Yuan plus will overtake all other BEV models by December once exports are included.
BYD Dolphin and Seagull: As lower prices vehicles, these should have even higher sales potential, but achieving the same price-parity at this lower price point is more difficult.
MG4, Geely and other Chinese Companies: So far BYD has the lead in value for money and volume from Chinese EV makers, but the MG4 from SAIC shows other Chinese brands could launch strong competitors.
Market Updates: Progress towards the top.
This section will keep a log of sales milestones by the Atto 3.
BYD today proudly announced that the BYD Atto 3 was the top selling EV in Israel in November. 2,333 Atto 3s were sold in Israel last month and it’s still only in its second month of sales since launch. This shows that demand for the critically acclaimed Atto 3 is growing fast in the country.
Tesla and Geely EVs were also in the mix in the sales charts. An even more impressive result was the fact that it was 3rd overall in Israel for November. The ATTO 3 is an affordable small SUV known as the BYD Yuan Plus in China and some other markets. It is known as the ATTO 3 in several international markets such as Japan, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Cambodia, Mauritius, and Israel, amongst othersThe BYD Atto 3 Is The Top Selling EV In Israel & 3rd Overall In November [2022, 3rd over all behind Kia & Toyota]
BYD has announced its first batch of sales for the Atto 3 small SUV, which has placed second only to the Tesla Model Y in the EV charts despite a several-week stop-saleVFACTS: BYD sales in Australia revealed for the first time, as EV registrations soar (whichcar.com.au)
Note the Atto 3 has also scored 2nd behind the Model Y in one COTY award in Australia, and in New Zealand has had one month, October 2022, as the top selling EV, plus one award already:
It might be from a brand previously unknown and completely new to New Zealand, but the BYD Atto 3 has taken the burgeoning Kiwi battery electric vehicle (BEV) market by storm. There’s no doubt it’s come at the right time for first-time plug-in buyers: the sharp pricing is on par with many petrol or diesel SUVs (bearing in mind the BYD’s lavish equipment levels), and that’s before you claim the $8625 Clean Car Discount, which both models are eligible for.
AA DRIVEN NZ COTY 2022: BYD Atto 3 is the best Clean Car BEV of the year
BYD: The Chinese EV brand with an impact comparable to Tesla.
Rapid rise to #1 Carmaker in China: From nowhere in 2020 to #6 in 2021, #1 in2022.
No, BYD is not just “a Chinese EV brand”. It is the Chinese EV brand. Whether Tesla or BYD leads on sales globally depends on how you count the numbers, but no other Chinese brand comes close to BYD. In global EV sales by company in 2022, BYD was either #2 behind #1 Tesla, or with those positions reversed depending on whether PHEVs are included. The only other Chinese company in the top 10 was Wuling, with what is a technically a “quadracycle” that sells for around US$5,000.
When a review positions BYD as “one of the EV brands emerging from China”, that does not really capture the reality.
In China BYD, sells significantly more EVs than Tesla, and around 10x more EVs than anyone in China but Tesla.
“BYD Outsells VW In China Through November, Becomes Top-Selling Brand“: Carscoops.
BYD Overtakes Volkswagen as China’s Best-Selling Car Brand
Bloomberg: Buffet backed BYD overtakes Volkswagen.
- Shenzhen-based BYD sold over 440,000 vehicles in first quarter
- Volkswagen had been top brand in China for at least 15 years
Car news China: Top-selling cars in April 2023 in China – BYD first, Volkswagen second, Toyota third
Which Car: BYD dethrones VW in China as number-one brand, led by EVs & PHEVs
BYD not only sells far more vehicles than any other Chinese EV brand, but BYD is in fact the top selling maker of all vehicles in China, having overtaken previous leaders such as VW-SAIC and Toyota. Yes, in the world’s largest car market, a brand making only plug-in vehicles, now outsells the traditional brands even their ICE vehicles sales. Vehicles like VW Golf and Toyota Corolla are no longer able to propel their makers to number 1 in sales. You now need to also be big in EVs.
This rise of BYD to #1 in China has been recent, and rapid.
BYD grew from over three-fold from 2020 to enter the top 10 car brands in China in 2021 at position 6, and then again over three-fold again in 2022 to overtake Toyota and VW to become not just the largest EV maker in the world’s largest car market, but the largest maker of all vehicles, despite themselves no longer producing any ICE vehicles.
In western press there is a tendency to generalise about “Chinese vehicles”, with the implication that all Chinese brands are the same, which would misleadingly imply that other brands from China are comparable to BYD.
BYD Globally: From nowhere in 2022, to #6 in 2023?
BYD has a stated target of 4 million vehicles in 2023, up from 1.8 million in 2022, and if BYD achieves that 4 million mark, it will be around 6th of all vehicle brands on the global stage and would be an even more distant #1 plugin vehicles sales. Achieving #1 globally of all car makers and overtaking Toyota and VW globally, if even at all possible, is still further away than just one extra year.
Although even brands like VW depend more on China than any other market, BYD is still even more dependant than VW and Toyota on China, and 2023 could be an “interesting” year in China for car sales.
The position of BYD in global sales, is courtesy of BYD dominating the market in China, and China representing over half the global EV market, as well as 1/3 of the global vehicle market.
While BYD is not expanding internationally, the import duties that Donald Trump introduced for Chinese vehicles into the USA, means 7 of the world’s top 10 selling plug-in vehicles, and the most affordable 7, are not scheduled for release in the USA.
But the USA is not that far behind the rest of the world, because most of the rest of the world is only just now starting the receive BYD vehicles.
The BYD vehicle being received 1st in most markets is the Atto 3.
BYD officially stands for “Build Your Dreams”.
Personally, I suspect these words were added some years after the name BYD selected, and this has even been hinted at in interview. In the 1990s, it was somewhat common for companies in China with global ambitions to choose a name consisting of simply western characters, without these characters standing for words. Names built from Chinese characters do not stand for words, as characters themselves are like words.
BYD Brand in China: Quality.
China vehicle quality ratings have BYD in 3rd place of 26 EV brands, and with a quality score above all 62 ICE brands. This means 3rd of 88 overall. For comparison, the two Toyota brands are #8 and #10 on the ICEV list, is Tesla sis #22 on the EV brands list. The reason there are two Toyota brands is western ICEVs in China are manufactured by JV partnerships, and many brands have two partnerships such as
The reliability ratings are impressive, and the brand is known for engineering, although they are not currently a standout out in software, and are not a premium brand, although they have recently launched a premium brand with two vehicles set to hit the market soon.
BYD, Also Worlds 2nd largest Battery maker and more.
BYD is also the worlds 2nd largest EV battery maker, as well as a world leader in EV Busses, monorails and more. This section also to be continued.
BYD 2021, as described in early 2022
The following is how I tried to describe BYD
BYD, the largest car company most people in the world anyone, other than EV fans, have never heard of, outsold Tesla within China in in 2021, and as BYD exports grow, has the potential to start outselling Tesla globally.
BYD is the only brand currently in the race with Tesla to be worlds leading EV producer, and is now set to move to a new level as they pivot from selling cars only China despite being a batteries, busses and trucks company globally, to being a true fully global brand with the Atto 3 and their Ocean series models.
Some bullet points:
4th3rd most valuable automobile maker in the world, behind only Tesla, Toyota and VW.
- Have been producing electric vehicles since 2008.
4th 3rd2nd largest battery maker in the world, behind CATL, and LG Chem and Panasonic.
- BYD batteries are in phones including iPhones, and their electric busses are already worldwide.
- Warren Buffet Berkshire Hathaway group as significant shareholder.
For worlds largest automobile company by 2030, some predict Tesla, others that it will still be Toyota, and I am not alone in predicting BYD will be the largest, and they have had that plan since 2010.
- 2023 March 26th: Preliminary 1st edition.