China Is Cornering the EV Market in the Global South

China Is Cornering the EV Market in the Global South
A BYD car-carrier ship is loaded with EVs for export at the port of Yantai, China, Jan. 10, 2024 (photo by Costfoto for NurPhoto via AP Images).

Last year, Chinese automaker BYD clinched a deal to take over Ford Motor’s factory in Bahia, Brazil, two years after Ford decided to withdraw from the Brazilian market. BYD is already the world’s largest producer of electric vehicles, or EVs, and the move into Brazil is an effort to further consolidate its early conquest of EV markets in the Global South.

Over the past 18 months, BYD has been pursuing an aggressive internationalization strategy, targeting emerging markets. Not only is it selling cars in markets that its main competitor, Tesla, has yet to enter, it is also investing in local manufacturing. The new EV factory in Brazil is only one of several billion-dollar investments in EV production that the Chinese manufacturer is making across the Global South. BYD is also building, or planning to build, factories in Thailand, Uzbekistan, Indonesia and Mexico in an unprecedented global expansion.

According to data provided to WPR by ABI Research, in 2023 BYD sold almost 18,000 cars—including plug-in electric hybrids—in Brazil, compared to less than 16,000 cars in Europe. And in Mexico, where Tesla is completely absent, BYD sold over 1,000 units in 2023, its first year in the country, and over 1,500 in the first two months of 2024.

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