BYD, the world's largest plug-in electric car manufacturer is expanding very fast, but when will it finally enter the United States?
So far, the Chinese company was offering in the US only commercial vehicles (buses and trucks), locally assembled in California, but the topic of electric cars was present basically from the beginning (more than 10 years), since the unveiling of the first BYD E6 model. Besides some pilot presentations, BYD never decided on a broad launch of its electric cars in the US.
According to Reuters, there was a chance that BYD would announce the EV launch at the recent CES tech show in Las Vegas, but nothing happened. Unofficial sources suggested that in 2022, the company conducted a study on how to set up a US distribution network.
"BYD spent much of last year conducting a study on how to set up a U.S. distribution network for its latest electric models, two of the sources said.
They described the study as advanced and serious, with specific recommendations from Detroit consultancy Urban Science on how many outlets in each state and city BYD would need, as well as formats for the brick-and-mortar stores."
BYD sold more than 1.85 million plug-in electric cars last year, including over 900,000 all-electric, basically tripling its volume year-over-year. The company is currently ramping-up multiple new models and expanding sales to many new countries around the world, including several in Europe.
However, it seems that BYD is extremely cautious about the US. The article explains that partially it's because of tense relations between Washington and Beijing. Additionally, this Summer, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) updated the $7,500 federal tax credit incentive, which would not be available for imported BYD electric cars.
For a company like BYD, it basically means that they would have to go all-in, not only with high-volume but also local production, which is not an easy decision to make, especially in such challenging times.
Other Chinese manufacturers are also choosing Europe first over the US. That includes both, plug-in electric car manufacturers, as well as battery manufacturers (CATL is a prime example). Cautious is probably the right word to describe the situation.
Nonetheless, BYD is expected to further grow, and soon reach a level of 3 million units per year with a potential for 10 million units per year "by the early 2030s" according to the article. It seems obvious that large carmakers at some point will decide to enter the US as well.