BYD, Geely post 2023 EV sales records on the back of overseas demand

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BYD said it last year delivered 280,217 units of the Seagull budget electric vehicle, priced from RMB 73,800 ($10,666), after launch in late April. Credit: BYD

Top Chinese automakers BYD and Geely on Monday reported record sales of electric vehicles in 2023 on the back of year-end momentum from their home turf and strong shipments to overseas markets, as China’s booming industry ramped up its push for global expansion.

Why it matters: The latest sales figures come at a time when China is set to surpass Japan to become the world’s largest car exporter, according to estimates by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM)  as reported by Nikkei, buoyed by a growing demand for green energy vehicles worldwide.

Exports of new energy vehicles, mainly all-electrics and plug-in hybrids, grew 83.5% year-on-year to almost 1.1 million from January to November, while internal combustion engine vehicles remain the major export commodity, accounting for 75% of China’s total car shipments abroad, according to CAAM.

Details: BYD posted record sales at more than 3.02 million EVs in 2023, marking 62% growth from a year ago and putting the Chinese carmaker in pole position to retain its title of the biggest-selling EV brand in the country. In particular, exports surged 334% to 242,765 units compared with the previous year, with the company now having established its footprint in more than 70 countries.

Sales of SAIC-GM-Wuling, General Motors’ minicar joint venture in China, also reached a record high of 1.4 million units, of which 211,512 were overseas exports, representing a 9% year-on-year growth. The automaker currently sells its budget models including Mini EVs in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. 

Geely said its EV sales rose 48% year-on-year and were also record-breaking last year, at 487,461 units, including 274,101 gas-powered and green energy vehicles abroad. Its premium EV brand Zeekr delivered 118,685 units over the year, up 65% year-on-year but missing its delivery goal of 140,000 units set earlier this year. 

GAC’s EV unit Aion was also around 20,000 units short of its annual delivery target of 500,000 EVs, closely followed by Changan Automobile at more than 470,000 units. Huawei’s manufacturing partner said overseas shipments grew 35.4% to roughly 230,000 units, as construction of its overseas production base started in Thailand last month. 

Li Auto maintained its solid momentum throughout the year as it reported deliveries of 50,353 plug-in hybrid crossovers in December, bringing the company’s total deliveries for the year to 376,030. Young EV makers such as NIO and Xpeng Motors are catching up with annual deliveries of 160,038 and 141,601, respectively. 

SAIC-Volkswagen, the joint venture of the Wolfsburg-based automaker and China’s state-owned automaker, said it became the most visible player among its peers with sales of almost 110,000 units of its China-made ID family electric models. The German automaker in July reportedly cut the price of its ID.3 hatchback by more than 20% to RMB 125,900 ($17,500).

Context: CAAM expected car sales in China to reach the threshold of 30 million units for the first time in 2023 and that number will be further increased to 31 million in 2024, Caixin reported. NEV sales are set to total 9.4 million units in 2023, up 37% from a year earlier. The growth rate could slow to 22% in 2024, however, as the domestic EV market is maturing.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: [email protected] or Twitter: @jill_shen_sh
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