Introducing BYD (Part 1)

In this article, we introduce Build Your Dreams (BYD) Group (Chinese: 比亚迪)(HKEX: 1211)(SZEX: 002594). Though most commonly known for its recent stellar achievements in the electric vehicle industry, BYD is actually a long-standing electronics manufacturer company established since 1995 that supplies components, provides assembly services, and produces rechargeable batteries for leading domestic and global clients including Huawei, Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, Dell, and iRobot.


This article provides a timeline of BYD's development over the past nearly 30 years, as well as a comprehensive overview of the company's (auto and general electronics related) brand portfolio. A financial analysis and discussion of BYD's future strategies is in Part 2.


This article is part of our China auto industry series, which includes:

 

Click here to subscribe and stay tuned for future updates!

 
Corporate Timeline

1995: The Founding of BYD

BYD was founded in 1995 as a producer of mobile phone batteries for third-party electronics brands, including Nokia and Motorola.


In 2002, BYD went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX: 1211).


2003: Entering The Auto Industry

In 2003, BYD acquired Xi'an Tsinchuan Auto (Chinese: 秦川汽车), a small auto manufacturer, and renamed it to BYD Auto (Chinese: 比亚迪汽车). BYD Auto subsequently launched its first popular car model, the BYD F3 compact car, in 2005, and the world's first mass produced plug-in hybrid car, the BYD F3DM, in 2008.


Note: a plug-in hybrid car and a standard hybrid car differs in that a plug-in hybrid vehicle has a battery pack that can be re-charged by plugging a charging cable into an external electric power source. In contrast, standard hybrid vehicles rely on their combustion engines to keep the electric batteries charged. Additionally, plug-in hybrid cars typically use electric power until the battery is depleted, before switching to the combustion engine, whereas standard hybrid vehicles use both electric and combustion engines interchangeably to maximize fuel efficiency.


In 2008, MidAmerican Energy Holdings (now Berkshire Hathaway Energy), a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, reached an agreement to acquire 225 million BYD shares and became BYD's long term investment strategic partner. This amount of shareholding represents 7.73% of BYD's total capital as of December 2021.


In 2009, BYD started producing new energy buses as part of a pilot scheme initiated by the central government.


In 2010, Daimler AG (now Mercedes-Benz Group AG) and BYD set up a 50-50 joint venture, named Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology (also known as DENZA, Chinese: 腾势) to research and develop new energy vehicles. In December 2021, DENZA was restructured so that BYD now holds a 90% interest in the joint venture. BYD and Mercedes-Benz released a number of cars under the Denza brand, although none particularly gained traction among consumers.


In 2011, BYD listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZEX: 002594).


2012: The First Dynasty Series Car Launches

In 2012, BYD launched the first car in its dynasty series (Chinese: 王朝系列), the BYD Qin (Chinese: 比亚迪秦). The dynasty series is a range of vehicle models named after different Chinese dynasties (discussed further in the next section).


In 2015, BYD confirmed a partnership with the UK's largest bus manufacturer, Alexander Dennis, to jointly produce electric buses for the British market. Cumulatively, BYD has delivered more than 70,000 electric buses to 300 cities across 52 different countries.


2016: Attempting Mass Transit

In 2016, BYD entered the mass transit market by signing a contract with Shenzhen's Pingshan district to construct a SkyRail (Chinese: 云轨) monorail system. BYD also signed contracts with a number of lower tier city governments to construct additional SkyRail systems, but all such projects were halted in 2018 due to the central government's strict new guidelines that restricted investments on city rail systems. Specifically, the new policies required cities and districts to have a certain population number and/or GDP target in order for train systems to be built, with the rationale that building railway systems in less developed areas could be economically wasteful. Currently, the SkyRail system is in operation at BYD's Shenzhen campus, and it remains to be seen whether or not there will be an extension of this SkyRail in neighbouring areas within the city. A short SkyRail system also exists in a flower and plant exposition in Yinchuan city, opened since 2017.


Following the halt of BYD's planned SkyRail projects, the company launched SkyShuttle (Chinese: 云巴), an elevated tram project that is presumably not regulated as a railway system. The first (and currently only) SkyShuttle line opened in Chongqing in April 2021. Around the same time, BYD also announced that the company has produced SkyRail vehicles for Brazil's Salvador city monorail system.


2020: Unveiling The Blade Battery

In 2020, BYD unveiled its Blade Battery (Chinese: 刀片电池) technology, an electric vehicle battery that is much safer and far less likely to catch fire than other forms of EV batteries in the industry. Indeed, BYD claims that the Blade Battery is the only battery in the industry that can pass the stringent nail penetration test, what is typically considered to be the most rigorous method of testing battery safety.


The same year, BYD also launched the BYD Han (Chinese: 比亚迪汉), a mid-size sedan and the company's first EV to be equipped with the new Blade Battery technology. The BYD Han is currently one of BYD's best-selling cars.


Also in 2020, BYD started producing iPods and iPads for Apple.


2021-Present: Becoming A National and Global EV Leader

In June 2021, BYD announced that the company's application to spin-off its semiconductor business (BYD Semiconductor) was accepted by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. BYD Semiconductor is engaged in the research and development, production, and sales of semiconductors, while the spun-off unit's listing is currently under review by the regulators.


By the end of 2021, BYD had become China's best-selling electric vehicle (EV) brand.


In Q1 2022, BYD announced that the company would cease the production of traditional internal combustion engine cars.


In June 2022, the Group announced that BYD will start supplying batteries to Tesla in the very near future.


In 1H2022, BYD overtook Tesla to become the world's best-selling electric vehicle company. Notably, BYD's EV sales figures include both plug-in hybrid EVs and pure EVs, while Tesla only produces and sells pure EVs.


Segment Overview

BYD Group is currently organized into three business segments:

  • Automobiles

  • Handset Components and Assembly Services

  • Rechargeable Battery and Photovoltaics


We walk through each of the business segments below.


Automobiles and Related Products

BYD's automobiles and related products segment comprises the manufacture and sale of automobiles and auto-related moulds and components, automobile leasing, after-sales services, a rail transport related business, and COVID-related products (e.g. ambulances for transporting patients).


BYD targets the mid- and mid- to high-end segment of China's automobile market. According to Autohome.com (Chinese: 汽车之家), one of China's most widely used car information websites, BYD has 18 car models that are currently on the market and 42 models that have been discontinued. All 18 models on the market are either plug-in hybrids or pure electric vehicles, with multiple models available in both options.


BYD's 18 car models include variations of the dynasty series, the ocean series, the ocean warship series, the e series, and the D1.


Dynasty Series (王朝系列)

The BYD dynasty series is a series of cars launched over the past decade that are named after different imperial Chinese dynasties. There are currently five core model themes in this series, comprising of compact sedan Qin (), mid-size crossover SUV Tang (), compact crossover SUV Song (), subcompact crossover SUV Yuan (), and mid-size sedan Han ().


The specific models available are:

  • Qin, Qin Pro, Qin Plus

  • Tang

  • Song Plus, Song Pro, Song Max

  • Yuan Plus (known as Atto 3 in certain markets), Yuan Pro

  • Han


Models under the same theme (e.g. Qin, Qin Pro, and Qin Plus) may differ slightly in appearance, while each specific model may also come with multiple trim levels (e.g. the Yuan Plus is offered in five different versions).


BYD Qin
BYD Qin Plus (Source: BYD)

Note: the DM-i refers to BYD's hybrid technology launched in January 2021 that features ultra-low fuel consumption



BYD Qin Plus Interior
BYD Qin Plus Interior (Source: BYD)



BYD Tang
BYD Tang (Source: BYD)

BYD Tang Interior
BYD Tang Interior (Source: BYD)

BYD Song
BYD Song (Source: BYD)

BYD Yuan Plus
BYD Yuan Plus (Source: BYD)

BYD Yuan Plus Interior
BYD Yuan Plus Interior (Source: BYD)



BYD Han
BYD Han (Source: BYD)

BYD Han Interior
BYD Han Interior (Source: BYD)

BYD does not provide specific sales data for each model, although estimates of relative popularity are available from third-party auto dealer and information websites. Based on these estimates, the dynasty series are BYD's best-selling car models.


Ocean Series (海洋系列)

The BYD ocean series is a series of two cars inspired by and named after different aquatic animals: the BYD Dolphin (海豚) (also known as BYD Atto 2 in certain markets), a subcompact hatchback launched in August 2021, and the BYD Seal (海豹) (also known as BYD Atto 4 in certain markets), a compact sedan which was recently open for pre-order in May 2022.


BYD Dolphin
BYD Dolphin (Source: BYD)

BYD Dolphin Interior
BYD Dolphin Interior (Source: BYD)

BYD Seal
BYD Seal (Source: BYD)


BYD Ocean Battleship Series (战舰系列)

The ocean battleship series is a series of two cars inspired by and named after different battleships. The series comprises of the BYD Destroyer 05 (Chinese: 驱逐舰 05), a compact, plug-in hybrid sedan launched in March 2022, and the BYD Frigate 07 (Chinese: 护卫舰 07), a medium-sized SUV that will be available for order in the very near future.


BYD Destroyer
BYD Destroyer 05 (Source: BYD)

BYD Destroyer 05 Interior
BYD Destroyer 05 Interior (Source: BYD)


BYD Frigate 07
BYD Frigate 07 (Source: Yiche/易车)

BYD E Series

The BYD e series was launched in 2019 as a series of cars developed using BYD's electric vehicle e-platform. Currently, there are three e-series models on the market: the e2 hatchback, the e3 compact sedan, and the e9 mid-size sedan.


The e series is relatively less popular compared with BYD's other car offerings.



BYD e2 (2021 version)
BYD e2 (Source: BYD)

BYD e3
BYD e3 (Source: Yiche/易车)


BYD e9
BYD e9 (Source: auto.sohu.com/搜狐汽车)

BYD D1

The BYD D1 is a multi-purpose electric vehicle developed jointly with ride-hailing company DiDi exclusively for the purpose of ride-hailing.



BYD D1
BYD D1 (Source: BYD)


Mobile Handset Components, Assembly Services, and Other Products

This segment comprises the manufacture and sale of mobile handset components, the provision of electronics assembly services, as well as COVID-related production of medical protection products (e.g. face masks). BYD does not have its own product brand, but rather serves a number of notable customers including Huawei, Samsung, Apple, vivo, and Xiaomi.


Rechargeable Battery and Photovoltaics

BYD is a leading global rechargeable battery manufacturer that produces lithium-ion, nickel, and iron batteries, as well as photovoltaic products, used in mobile phones, electronic tools, other portable electronic devices, energy storage devices and stations, and electric vehicles. The Group's major clients include consumer electronics manufacturers Samsung and Dell, as well as leading professional cleaning robot brands iRobot and ECOVACS.


Note: photovoltaics refers to the direct conversion of light into electricity, with photovoltaic cells serving as the main component of solar panels.

 

Click here to subscribe and stay tuned for future updates!

 

China E-Commerce

An Overview and Timeline of China's E-Commerce Sector

Comparing Alibaba, JD, and Pinduoduo

Alibaba (Part 1): Introducing the Alibaba Ecosystem and Commerce Empire

JD (Part 1): Understanding JD

Pinduoduo (Part 1): Targeting China's Forgotten Consumers


More on China

An Introduction to China's After-School Education Industry

Policy Update: China's K-12 Education Industry Reforms

What Happened To DiDi?

Anti-Trust Approval Fines: Signalling The Future of China's Internet Giants


Glossary

CN Glossary