EV giant BYD aims for UK market breakthrough

BYD has outlined ambitious plans for 2024 and plans to move fast to deliver an electric vehicle (EV) in every segment of the UK market.

Speaking at the Auto Trader What’s New On The Road To 2035 webinar, BYD head of sales Simon Bisp acknowledged the challenge of being the ‘biggest car manufacturer you’ve never heard of’ and said the Chinese manufacturer’s goal in 2024 would be ‘to change that narrative’.

“Our aim this year is to make sure that’s not the case for much longer,” he said, adding that BYD’s decision to be the E-mobility partner for the Euro 24 championships was a strategic bid to boost visibility.

“It’s those kinds of strategic investments that will obviously allow more customers to find us and learn about us.” 

“We’re obviously starting in terms of our marketing presence and increasing customer awareness,” he said. “I think we did a fantastic job last year entering the market, introducing ourselves to the industry and the motoring press.

“We’ve managed to garner a lot of really positive reviews for our products and the basis is there for our customers to do their research. They will find a lot of independent reviews that will validate the quality of our products. Once you do find out more, you realise that we’re pretty unique in the automotive industry in terms of our heritage.”

He said BYD’s uniqueness lies in its evolution from a battery tech company into a comprehensive mobility solutions provider with an unparalleled supply chain ownership of the crucial component of EVs – the battery.

BYD also placed a huge importance in anticipating change and maintaining speed and agility to adapt.

“As a company with 600,000 global employees, including 90,000 engineers, we accept an average of 14 patents per working day,” Bisp pointed out. We’re constantly working on technology and the speed of transition is fantastic. We’re already releasing the next generation of that platform.”

“We will move incredibly fast in terms of delivering a vehicle in every segment of the market within the UK by mid 2025 so it won’t be a case that we’re appealing to a small segment of a small market. BYD will be appealing to everybody who’s considering EV.”

Discussing BYD’s retail strategy, Bisp reiterated that it follow a traditional franchised retailer model and has no plans for a direct-to-consumer approach, partnering instead with established retailers to capitalise on their expertise, local knowledge, and existing customer relationships.

“We rely heavily on the retailer’s expertise, their local knowledge, and sales processes, which we don’t yet have developed for the UK market,” said Bisp. “Working in partnership with our retailer partners is crucial for customer confidence and market expansion.”

As part of its ambitious expansion plan for the UK, BYD aims to open up to 60 retail sites across the UK by the middle of the year.

BYD however plans to limit the number of investor partners to below 20, strategically selecting them to cover specific geographic areas.

“We’re going to follow a strategy of limiting the number of investor partners we work with, mainly because it makes sense to work with investors in logical geographic areas, but also because of the speed with which we want to move.

“So if you anticipate between 60 to 80 sites, we would probably aim to keep the number of total number of investors below 20 and therefore, we’ll be asking those sites to those investors to open 2-3-4 sites themselves.

“We’re almost there in terms of our investor partners, There’s a few more to be signed up over the next month or so but from then it will largely be progressing with the ones that we’ve chosen in terms of increasing the footprint.”

Bisp added that in terms of supply, BYD’s aim is to keep a good supply of all of its models in the UK with lead times from order to delivery a matter of weeks rather than months.

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