The worlds biggest maker of EVs reports slowdown

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

BYD, the world’s biggest maker of electrified vehicles, didn’t escape the fallout from China’s EV price wars in the first quarter of 2024.

While sales continue to grow, the first-quarter financials show a noticeable slowdown from the boom at the end of 2023.

The giant this week reported its second-highest on-record sales last month, despite the clear slowdown in sales in its market-leading battery-powered cars.

A surge in exports in the month to record levels helped offset that dip and pushed total sales for the first four months of the year to 939,508 units, up more than 23% from the same period in 2023 when China was still emerging from the harsh lockdowns of the two preceding years.

The company said it sold 313,245 new energy vehicles (NEVs) in April, up 49% from the 210,295 sold in April 2023 but only up 3.57% from the 302,459 units sold in March.

March’s total was the second-highest since the record in the boom month of last December when the company sold 341,043 units. April now holds the second-highest sales figure on record, and the company seems confident it will hit new records over the rest of this year.

Interestingly, BYD's sales of plug-in hybrids (called PHEVs in China) were again ahead of the company’s normal strength—pure BEVs (or battery-powered electric vehicles), which surprisingly fell last month.

Passenger BEV sales were 134,465, down 3.9% from March but up 28.8% from April 2023.

But sales of PHEVs were up nearly 10% from March at 177,583 and a massive 69% from a year ago.

In April, BYD sold a record 41,011 vehicles in overseas markets, surpassing March's previous record of 38,434. That's up 176% year-on-year and 6.7% from March.

Analysts said the lift in BYD’s sales of PHEVs (which are rechargeable hybrids, unlike the regenerative types Toyota sells in their millions and do not need charging) tells us the company is selling into markets where there are few recharging stations.

Earlier this week, BYD’s first-quarter revenue and earnings took an obvious hit from the sales war costs and a sluggish start to the year for sales.

The new big NEV maker reported revenue of 124.94 billion yuan ($US17.25 billion) in the first quarter, up 4% year-on-year but down nearly 31% from the fourth quarter of 2023.

BYD's net profit in the first quarter was 4.57 billion yuan (around $US635 million), up 10.6% year-on-year but down 47.3% from the fourth quarter of 2023.

BYD's first-quarter NEV sales were 626,263 vehicles, up 13.4% year-on-year, but down a third from the fourth quarter of 2023.

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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