BYD has dethroned Volkswagen as China's best selling car brand

Lionel Kong
BYD car

2023 sales of BYD cars in China have exceeded those of previous top seller, VW 


440k against 427k. That’s the number of BYD vehicles sold compared to the number of Volkswagens sold in China in the first quarter of 2023. The 13,000 difference in sales deliveries between the Chinese and German brands has now officially made Chinese automaker BYD the top brand in its home country for the first time. 

BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu had originally set a target for the brand to become China’s top auto brand at the end of 2023, but it seems that the goal has already been reached, nine months earlier than projected.

Volkswagen has had a nearly untouchable spot as the top-selling car brand in China since at least 2008,  which was when data from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center became available to the public. In the first quarter of 2023, there were 427,247 Volkswagens sold there, with EVs accounting for only 6 percent of the total number.

BYD however, aided by government incentives that give discounts to buyers of domestic EVs, has quickly won over the buying public in China.

Against the backdrop of the recently concluded Shanghai Auto Show, it is becoming apparent that the trend appears to reflect the declining influence of foreign brands in the country. The Chinese buying public have come to realise that local EV makers are now capable of building increasingly sophisticated and affordable models.

BYD car U8
The new BYD Yangwang U8 on display at Auto Shanghai

VW Group CEO Oliver Blume acknowledged that the brand he is leading was now having to wage an uphill battle against domestic brands in China, saying, “BYD is very, very strong. But in the end, not everything is about volume. We want to have a successful business, and it is more important to be the best international group here in China.”

The BYD Atto 3 is CarBuyer Singapore’s Value Champion of 2022

In 2022 alone, BYD sold 1.86 million vehicles worldwide, more than it did in the previous four years combined. The Warren Buffet-backed automaker accounted for two of every five EV sold in China in the first quarter 2023.

Meanwhile in the rest of the world, BYD sold close to 550,000 cars from January to March 2023.

BYD car
The BYD Atto 3 in Singapore

The brand has been intensifying its push overseas. In Singapore, the first edition BYD Atto 3 met with great success despite the high COE prices, while a new, lower powered and cheaper version has just been launched and is expected to help bolster sales figures here even further.

Meanwhile, if you don’t want to go fully electric yet, the Kia Niro Hybrid is a pretty cool car!

Europe, Latin America and Asia will be the brand’s key export markets, and BYD has confirmed that at the moment it has no plans to retail its cars in the USA. 

BYD has said that it has a target to sell at least 3 million vehicles worldwide this year, and some industry analysts have noted that based on its current trajectory the brand could move at least 3.7 million cars through its showrooms by the end of 2023.


byd chinese car electric car EV

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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