BYD aims to storm Japan: 30,000 EVs sold annually by 2025 and 100 dealerships

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Multiple dealers revealed that BYD plans to sell 30,000 electric vehicles annually by 2025 and have 100 dealerships in Japan. That means each dealership would need to sell 300 cars yearly.

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This is an ambitious plan, as Japan has always been a fortress for foreign automakers. Local manufacturers have a market share of more than 90%, and the market is still dominated by ICE cars, with plug-in vehicles having an insignificant market share. In November this year, Japan’s electric vehicle sales dropped 9% year-on-year to only 6,429 units.

And BYD’s founder Wang Chuanfu sees an opportunity there. BYD attended the Tokyo Auto Show in October and brought even the YangWang U8 hardcore SUV for its overseas debut, sparking many headlines. During the show, Chuanfu invited dozens of dealers from all over the country to a private conference in a Tokyo hotel where he had been introducing the BYD’s Japan strategy for over an hour, Nikkei reported.

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BYD entered the Japanese market in July 2022 and brought three cars – BYD Seal, Dolphin, and Atto 3 (Yuan Plus in China). BYD initially claimed it would rely on online sales, but Liu Xueliang, president of BYD Japan, later said the strategy was shifted toward traditional dealerships.

“It is precisely because we’re in Japan, where nobody knows our brand, that we should bring people in contact with vehicles and dealers,” said Liu to Nikkei. “Japanese consumers are abundantly sensitive toward autos, and they would be difficult to capture online.”

The Shenzhen-based automaker currently has about 50 sales points in various regions of Japan, including temporary stores. When asked why BYD aims to invest so heavily in such a difficult market as Japan, Liu answered that the company will “take what it learned in Japan and spread it across Asia and the rest of the world.”

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BYD Dolphin hatchback started sales in Japan three months ago, in September, and cost about 3.63 million yen (25,300 USD or 180,000 yuan).

BYD delivered 2,682,636 electric vehicles in 2023 between January and November and aims to fulfill the 3 million annual target. Exports rose 149% YoY in November to 30,629 EVs shipped overseas. In 2023 (Jan-Nov) BYD exported a total of 206,679 EVs so far. BYD ceased production of ICE vehicles in April 2022.

Editor’s comment

And BYD might have an ace up the sleeve for Japan’s expansion. BYD is helping Toyota to build its BEVs. Toyta’s first all-electric sedan, bZ3, was co-developed with BYD and featured lots of BYD tech inside, including Blade LFP battery and BYD e-motor. Will BYD and Toyota also become frenemies also in Japan? We will keep an eye on that.

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