At a time when the Indian government’s scrutiny of Chinese firms is on the rise, Chinese electric vehicle (EV) firm BYD (Build Your Dreams) is looking to project itself as a global technology company. Another Chinese firm Great Wall Motor Co.— which planned to invest $1 billion in India — didn’t get government approval to buy the General Motors Co. plant. The government is also probing SAIC Motor Corp-owned MG Motor India over alleged financial irregularities. To deal with the challenges of operating as a Chinese company in India, BYD said its “global technology company” image will help instill customer confidence.
“We’re projecting ourselves as a global tech company. First if the customer confidence comes then I think most of the things are sorted out. Customer wants the car and the product technologies which we’ve already established. That will play a major role in establishing ourselves. Politically, things happen in every country. We have to manage that at a long-term level. We have been in India for last 15 years through various routes,” said Sanjay Gopalakrishnan, senior vice president, BYD India.
Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway was the world's biggest seller of EVs and plug-in hybrids in 2022 with a total of 1.86 million sales as compared to 1.3 million of Tesla sold. “We want to be a big EV player in the Indian market in the PV space,” Gopalakrishnan added.
BYD delivered 700 vehicles in India last year and is targeting people who are looking to purchase a second or third car. Gopalakrishnan is looking to capture 40 per cent of India’s EV market share by 2030. The company plans to its third electric model, the Seal luxury sedan, by the last quarter of 2023 and is targeting to sell 15,000 electric vehicles this year.
"This year we want to achieve a certain target volume of 15,000. That’s what we’re looking at with the three products which we have launched. We also want to expand our sales network to almost close to 63 outlets in the country. Going forward looking at the market development, we’ll grow with new products," he added.
"By 2030, we want to target 40 per cent EVs vehicle sales in India being a global leader in the EV space," he noted.
He added that the company is starting sales this month and depending upon how the market grows, BYD aims to be among the top two EV players. "We’ve been a pure EV player and will remain that. We don’t want to do too many things," he said.
He further said that BYD has no immediate plans to enter different categories like ethanol, flex fuel, hydrogen, etc. "The customer will be confused whether to go for EV, ICE, flex fuel, ethanol, etc. Even with CNG and LPG coming in, customers are confused. We will focus on what our strengths are. We are good in EV technology, we will focus on becoming the largest selling EV," he said. BYD invested $150 million in two plants in India which it sees as a strategic hub in South Asia.
He said that localisation will happen only when they achieve a certain level of scale. "When we enter the phase 2 of the business in 2025 going forward, we will then look at the possibilities how to do local manufacturing in India," he said.
He noted that he looks at competition which will actually drive the market. "We have our own technology strengthens, we make everything ourselves, batteries, conductors, motors, etc. We will look at our technology strengths and accordingly pitch forward in the market. As more and more players come in, consumers will have more and more choices which means adoption will be faster," he said.
BYD wants to follow a top-down strategy. "We want to be a premium technology player. We want to establish that and then come into the mass segment," he said.
India’s passenger vehicle (PV) space is heating up. Tigor and Nexon EV maker Tata Motors holds 85 per cent share of the EV car market in FY22 followed by China’s SAIC-owned British brand MG Motors at 11.5 per cent with its ZS EV. Homegrown automaker Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M), too, recently announced its foray into the EV segment with five new eSUVs and their new platform, Inglo. Other carmakers including Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen, etc. have also announced new EV launches.
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