BYD leads Chinese car brands past Ford and Chevy in global sales

CHINA’S carmakers outsold their US counterparts for the first time last year, a testament to the shifting power dynamics in the global auto market.

Brands led by BYD sold 13.4 million new vehicles last year, beating the 11.9 million units delivered by American brands such as Ford and Chevrolet, researcher Jato Dynamics said on Thursday (Jun 13). Japanese brands maintained their lead over the rest of the industry.

Chinese manufacturers’ market share soared across the Middle East, Eurasia and Africa, with the likes of SAIC Motor and Geely also making inroads in more mature markets such as Europe and Australia.

“Negligence from legacy automakers, which has resulted in consistently high car prices, has inadvertently driven consumers towards more affordable Chinese alternatives,” Jato analyst Felipe Munoz said.

China’s carmakers are increasingly turning to exports after seizing control of their home market, where an electric-vehicle (EV) price war is weighing on earnings. Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk warned in January that Chinese companies will “pretty much demolish” most other manufacturers if trade barriers are not erected.

The European Union’s move this week to impose additional tariffs on EVs imported from China may convince BYD and its peers to expand further in emerging markets, where they are already doing well and trade barriers are lower, Munoz said.


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Beijing slammed the move as protectionist behaviour and said it hoped the European bloc would correct its “wrong practices” and handle trade frictions through dialogue.

China said it would take “all necessary measures” to safeguard its interests after the European Commission announced on Wednesday it would impose extra duties of up to 38.1 per cent on imported Chinese electric cars from July.

“We urge the EU to listen carefully to the objective and rational voices from all walks of life, immediately correct its wrong practices, stop politicising economic and trade issues, and properly handle economic and trade frictions through dialogue and consultation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said at a regular press briefing.

The US did manage to snag one big win last year, with Tesla’s Model Y becoming the best-selling vehicle worldwide.

Deliveries of the sport utility vehicle jumped 64 per cent to 1.22 million units, beating out Toyota Motor’s RAV4 SUV.

Japanese brands were the best overall performers, making seven of the ten best-selling models and delivering around 23.6 million cars in total. European brands ranked second last year. BLOOMBERG

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