Buried in the bumf about BYD’s plans to shake up the European passenger car market with a trio of Tesla-baiting EVs was one critical line about why it could do just that: “BYD owns the vertical supply chain for seamless integration and total manufacturing control, including the production of semiconductors.”
That’s it, then – everyone else can just go home. Not only does this Warren Buffett-backed colossus (which already holds around 95% of the London electric bus market, FYI) have a comprehensive range of attractive and technically impressive passenger EVs on its way to dealerships, its oversight of the channels that are so essential to their production means it is far better placed to deal with the industry headwinds currently battering other global car manufacturers.
Tellingly, it describes itself as a technology company, rather than as a ‘car brand’ – a nod to its preoccupation with developing advanced, stable and competitive batteries completely in-house. Indeed, the Blade Battery housed within its new third-generation EV architecture has proved to be far less susceptible to dangerous thermal events without unduly impacting range per charge.
And the lithium contained therein? Rather than let its global roll-out plans be knocked around by the delays, shortages and soaring costs that have turned the industry on its head, BYD has made the sensible decision to start the acquisition process on six lithium mines in raw material-rich Africa, which according to Chinese publication The Paper will supply enough lithium for 10 years of EV production – or around 28 million electric vehicles.
That’s not just a huge statement of intent from the brand (which might still have some work to do in Europe to make people forget the costly and unimpressive e6 crossover from 2012) but the establishment of a stable and controllable supply source that will be the envy of any EV manufacturer struggling to ramp up production volumes, or hiking up retail costs to compensate for soaring raw material prices.
Plus, because BYD has a dedicated division for the development and production of semiconductor chips, it’s well placed to get cars to market quickly while ensuring the technology contained within them is as fresh as it can be. So, a Tesla beater?
Well, it still doesn’t have localised production of cars or batteries in Europe – and hasn’t made any indication that it’s on the cards – so its Californian rival can benefit from cheaper distribution costs in mainland Europe, at least. And it’s arriving just as rival Chinese marques Nio, Aiways, Xpeng and Great Wall – to name a few – fight for space in Europe to ram their own flags into the ground.