Warren Buffett-backed electric carmaker BYD sees August sales surge more than 300%

BYD’s Han electric car, pictured here at the 2021 Shanghai auto show, is one of the most popular new energy vehicles in China.

Evelyn Cheng | CNBC

GUANGZHOU, China — BYD sold 61,409 new energy vehicles in August, more than four times the amount sold a year ago, as demand for electric cars continues to rise in the world’s largest auto market.

That figure was nearly evenly split between sales of battery electric vehicles and so-called plug-in hybrids.

It was also a rise from the 50,492 cars sold in July. BYD shares rose 5.5% in morning trade in Hong Kong.

BYD, which is backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is one of the biggest electric vehicle makers in China. But a number of start-ups including Nio, Li Auto and XPeng have looked to challenge it. Still, these three are smaller at the moment and all delivered under 10,000 cars in August.

BYD’s figures focus on sales volumes while Nio, Li Auto and XPeng released delivery numbers, so the comparison is not like-for-like, but it does indicate the scale of the respective companies.

The auto industry globally has been battling with two major issues — the continuing pandemic and a shortage of semiconductors that go into cars.

BYD did not provide any commentary around the August numbers. But in its half year results released last month, the company said “profitability is affected to some extent by factors including rising prices of raw materials such as bulk commodities.”

Despite the issues affecting the auto industry, demand for electric vehicles continues to climb in China, as the government pushes development of the sector.

China is expected to sell 1.7 million new energy vehicles in the first eight months of this year, a rise from 600,000 cars in the same period of 2020, according to a Reuters report of comments from the vice minster of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology made on Saturday.

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