BYD Likes the Car Thing, Wants to Unseat Toyota

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
byd likes the car thing wants to unseat toyota

“It’s our company’s long-term target, to be China’s No. 1 automaker by 2015 and to be the world’s leading car maker by 2025,” Build Your Dream’s marketing reps tell the AP. Ready for a reality check? BYD sold only 400k units last year, almost all of them in China. In fact, just a few years ago BYD wasn’t an automaker at all, but a battery supplier to laptop and cell phone companies. Several years and a big investment from Warren Buffet later, BYD is getting all kinds of cocky.

Analysts claim that BYD’s goal of beating Toyota by 2025 is “realistic” because China and other Asian markets show more promise for growth than the relatively mature US and European markets. Still, BYD’s a long way from even dominating the Chinese market. GM sold 814,442 units in the first half of 2009, followed by Volkswagen which moved 652,436 vehicles. BYD sold only 246,881 in the first three quarters of this year.

Breaking into the US and Europe seems to be an even tougher nut to crack. Chinese vehicles face the mother of all “perception gaps,” thanks to China’s reputation as a source of cheap, low-quality goods. Although BYD’s battery and hybrid drivetrain technology appear to be world class (after all, BYD’s F3DM is the world’s first plug-in hybrid), it takes more than a slick drivetrain to satisfy picky consumers in mature car markets. Oh yeah, and the BYD system has yet to be independently tested by western auto journalists.

BYD’s recent announcement of a forthcoming EV MPV illustrates a number of the challenges facing the firm as it builds towards its goal of 10m global sales by 2025. That vehicle will probably cost $40K by the time it arrives, suggesting that potential quality issues could become problems of brand-aborting stature. As one analyst puts it, the first wave of BYDs are “all about advertising and brand building.”

The implication is that initial volume and pricing don’t matter. BYD needs to “just let the world know you are the world leaders and then see what happens,” according to the same analyst. But that’s not a strategy, it’s pure hubris. Just ask GM how that strategy has worked out.

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  • on Sep 19, 2009

    "wsn : September 18th, 2009 at 4:58 pm B10er, I am just against double standards. No matter how you spin it, the Porsche logo and the Ferrari logo are just too visually close." What in the world are you talking about???? In my very long life as an auto enthusiast, and having seen 1,000 Porsches and 1,000 Ferraris, I NEVER, EVER, Not even ONCE, not even REMOTELY, confused the one with the other, regardless of how many similarities you were able to find in the two logos (this reminded me of these kid's games where they are shown two identical pics and are told to find the six differences. In this case, you got two totally different logos and found... the 6 similarities! Good Job!) HOWEVER, I WAS indeed DUPED when I, as I said, "Speed-read" (or "SPeed-saw" the BMW'ish BYD logo, the similarities were way too obvious. Again, BYD itself proves my point, since they hastily changed the logo, afraid of BMW retaliation and lawuits where BYD would lose BIG TIME..

  • BuzzDog BuzzDog on Sep 19, 2009

    Autosavant +1 Let me put it this way: I've had both Porsches and BMWs in my household at one time, so I'd like to think I'm somewhat familiar with the appearance of both. At a quick glance, I've never have been "duped" into mistaking the Ferrari logo for that of Porsche. Can't say the same for BYD/BMW. Your mileage may vary, but I don't think my cognitive abilities are all that unique. Besides, you hear immediate - and loud - outrage, even from non-enthusiasts, over the BYD/BMW to explain why you never seem to hear the same over the "similarities" between the logos of Porsche and Ferrari?

  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
  • Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.