BYD showcases the Seal sedan at the 2023 Shanghai auto show in April. (PHOTO by CAO YINGYING/CHINA DAILY)
BYD, the largest new energy vehicle maker in China, is considering building a passenger vehicle manufacturing plant in Europe, the latest move by the Shenzhen, Guangdong province-based carmaker to explore international markets as its NEV models gain in popularity overseas.
"We are now assessing the feasibility of building a passenger vehicle plant in Europe, and we are looking for an appropriate location for such a facility," the Warren Buffett-backed automaker said on Monday.
The announcement came amid reports that BYD is in talks with France to establish a manufacturing facility there.
In October, German car rental company Sixt signed a deal to buy 100,000 electric vehicles from BYD by 2028.
Southeast Asia is also serving as a growth market for the carmaker.
BYD's Atto 3 is the bestselling electric vehicle in Thailand, with over 5,500 delivered in the first quarter this year, Thai media outlet AutoLife has reported.
BYD began construction of a manufacturing plant in Thailand in March, its first overseas unit for passenger vehicles.
Located in the coastal province of Rayong, vehicles are scheduled to roll out from the facility in 2024. It has an annual capacity of 150,000 new energy vehicles, and will serve as a hub for its NEV production and sales in Thailand as well neighboring member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said the carmaker.
BYD is also thinking of expanding its footprint in Vietnam, news wire Reuters has reported.
BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu, according to Reuters, said he expected Vietnam to create favorable conditions for the company to complete investment procedures. Wang made the remarks during a meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha on May 5.
Other major Chinese carmakers, including SAIC Motor and Great Wall Motors, are adopting a localization strategy in overseas markets.
Earlier this month, SAIC kicked off construction of a new energy industrial park in Thailand that is expected to focus on localized production of key auto parts for the company's new energy vehicles.
The first phase of the park is estimated to be completed this year, and the entire project will be finished by 2025, the carmaker said.
Six of the top 10 EV models in Thailand in the first quarter were from Chinese brands, statistics from AutoLife showed.
In addition to BYD vehicles, the list included the Neta V from Chinese startup Hozon, the Ora Good Cat from Great Wall Motors and the MG4 Electric, MG EP, and MG ZS EV from SAIC.
These Chinese vehicles cumulatively accounted for nearly 78 percent of the Thai EV market in the first quarter, with the rest of the market shared by models from Tesla and Volvo.
China shipped 3.11 million vehicles overseas in 2022, surpassing Germany as the world's second-largest automobile exporter, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Chen Shihua, deputy secretary-general of the association, said exports are expected to surge further this year, driven by a growing demand for China-made NEVs.