Originally published on Sustainnovate.
BYD is one of the leading electric car manufacturers in the world — or even the leading manufacturer. It is also the world’s leading manufacturer of electric buses, sells solar panels, sells stationary energy storage systems, and sells LEDs as well. You can’t make a list of corporate cleantech leaders and exclude BYD. In 2014, Wang Chuanfu, founder and chairman of BYD, actually won the Zayed Future Energy Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. So, this is essentially the second time BYD is winning.
I encourage you to watch the video interview with Mr Chuanfu to get not only the key points, but also nuances. One difficult thing about the interview to note, however, is that the questions and answers had to go through a translator who doesn’t actually work for BYD — leading to some challenges in communicating the questions and answers. Overall, though, I think they got transmitted effectively, and toward the end, Sherry Li, a marketing director for BYD, stepped in to help with the translations.
That note aside, some of my key takeaways from this rare opportunity to get answers directly (or almost directly) from Mr Chuanfu are as follows:
- The electric car market tripled in China in 2015. As part of that, BYD became the largest electric car producer in China and in the world as a whole.
- BYD expects the Chinese electric car market to double every year in the next 3 years.
- BYD’s electric buses are now running in over 160 cities.
- BYD doesn’t really see Tesla as a competitor. The market is huge, leaving a ton of room for growth throughout the market. More than competitors, Tesla and BYD are partners in growing the transition to electric vehicles. Additionally, Tesla currently sells to a high-end market, while BYD serves more affordable markets, so they are simply in quite different segments.
- I had to ask repeatedly about whether the very popular BYD Tang and BYD Qin would come to the US and/or Europe, two plug-in hybrid models with great performance that have been extremely popular in China. Unfortunately, the word finally was that BYD is focusing on electric buses for now to build its brand in the US and Europe. In other words, it seems there are no clear plans to bring the Qin or Tang overseas.
- As far as stationary storage, BYD noted that it is focusing on home storage in Japan, while it is focusing on large-scale, industrial storage projects in the US.
- As noted earlier, BYD is rolling out electric buses around the developed world. Pushed to list some of the 160+ cities that use these buses, Mr Chuanfu mentioned LA, London (which uses single-decker and double-decker), Amsterdam (the airport has 30 buses) are using BYD electric buses. But the big users are, of course, still in China. 50 Chinese cities are using BYD electric buses.
I’m a big fan of BYD, so it was fun to see the company win, and it was an honor to have the opportunity to ask Mr Chuanfu questions.