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Chinese EV leader BYD makes aggressive push in ASEAN

Written by Nikkei Asia Published on   3 mins read

The Tesla rival eyes a doubling of outlets in Singapore and the Philippines after entering Indonesia.

Rising Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD plans to roughly double its sales outlets in Singapore and the Philippines together as it pursues aggressive expansion in ASEAN after launching in Indonesia recently.

The automaker, which has grown to rival Elon Musk’s Tesla as the world’s top EV manufacturer, wants to open more than a dozen sales outlets for passenger cars this year alone in Singapore and the Philippines, according to its managing director for both markets, James Ng.

Ng spoke to Nikkei Asia on January 31 at the launch of a new facility to train EV mechanics in western Singapore. The facility is a joint project with NTUC LearningHub, the training and education arm of the city-state’s umbrella labor union, the National Trades Union Congress.

“If you look at [the] ASEAN market … in terms of culture … [it is] near to the culture of China,” he said. “So basically whatever products we produce, the behavior from these consumers from ASEAN signifies the recognition of BYD.”

In mid-January, China’s top EV maker launched three passenger models in Indonesia, introducing its Seal sedan, Atto 3 sports utility vehicle, and Dolphin hatchback at a ceremony in Jakarta as it makes a foray into the largest economy in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

In Singapore and the Philippines, BYD works with local distributors to sell its EVs, Ng said, having struck partnerships with the automotive group Sime Darby Motors in the city-state and the Philippine conglomerate Ayala to grow its sales network for passenger cars.

Last year, Ayala entered a deal to sell BYD’s electric vehicles in its home market. Under the agreement, Ayala’s automobile division, AC Motors, is expected to handle sales and maintenance for BYD’s EVs through its network.

In the Philippines, Ng said BYD has a network of over 10 dealers and is looking to add more than 20 sales points this year.

In Singapore, he said BYD plans to open two or three more outlets, up from the current crop of seven outlets, which include showrooms and also cafes where customers can dine and purchase BYD products.

“Philippines can do equally good or even better than Singapore,” Ng said. “We are basically learning from, getting the best practice from, Singapore and map across to Philippines—of course, we need to adjust accordingly, to suit the localization.”

BYD has been in Singapore for a decade and has recently made a push to raise its profile among local customers. Last August, it launched a cafe and showroom in a mall in the heart of downtown, right next to another shopping center that houses Tesla’s showroom in the city.

Its joint project with NTUC LearningHub targets training 500 people a year who will be skilled in EV maintenance, with their training based on BYD’s cars. The city-state’s EV numbers are growing, with over 18% of new cars registered in 2023 being electric ones—five times the level in 2021, according to authorities.

Figures also show that BYD registered some 1,400 cars last year, nearly double the 780-odd registrations in 2022 and making the automaker the top EV brand in Singapore in 2023, topping Tesla’s roughly 940 registrations.

“BYD now, electric vehicle—we are number one now,” said Roger Chan, the after-sales director at BYD Singapore, during the launch of the training site. “It’s definitely a good thing for BYD, and also a good thing for Singapore.”

This article first appeared on Nikkei Asia. It has been republished here as part of 36Kr’s ongoing partnership with Nikkei.


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