China’s leading automaker, BYD, has made a patriotic call for unity within the industry to “demolish the old legends” of the global market. The call, made by BYD founder and chairman Wang Chuanfu at an event celebrating a production milestone, highlights China’s emergence as a global auto manufacturing powerhouse. Chuanfu emphasized the emotional need for the Chinese people to see a Chinese brand becoming globally successful. The call has received widespread praise, but also a rebuke from a rival.
BYD, often seen as Tesla’s closest competitor in the global electric vehicle sales race, released a video at the event showcasing the history of Chinese automakers. The video depicted the founding of various automakers, from state-run FAW Group in 1956 to recent commercial EV startups like Xpeng, Nio, and Li Auto. The video aimed to highlight the shared direction of Chinese automakers while calling for the demolition of old legends and the creation of new world-class brands.
The video quickly went viral on social media in China, with executives from rival companies expressing their appreciation. Nio CEO William Li praised BYD’s success and called for learning from it, while Li Auto CEO Li Xiang saluted BYD and encouraged support for participants in the new energy era. However, some carmakers cautioned that the message could raise regulatory risks for Chinese brands overseas, particularly in Europe where Chinese EV exports face potential anti-dumping scrutiny.
A senior executive of China’s Great Wall Motor responded to BYD’s call by urging Chinese manufacturers to embrace the reality of competition. This comes after the China Association of Auto Manufacturers retracted a pledge, involving 16 firms including BYD, to avoid abnormal pricing. The industry group acknowledged that the agreement had violated China’s antitrust law.
Despite these challenges, BYD has solidified its position as the leader in China’s new-energy market, which includes plug-in hybrids and EVs. The company’s market share increased to 37% in the first seven months of the year, up from 29% the previous year. Additionally, BYD surpassed Volkswagen, China’s long-time sales leader, in total sales.