The last BYD passenger car without a plug rolled off the line in China at the end of February. Since then, every one built has been either a plug-in hybrid or a battery-electric car, according to Electrive, which cites several Chinese sources for its report.
There was no official announcement from BYD at the time, but now the company has acknowledged the change in policy, saying it is “in line with strategic development requirements.” In a statement for the local stock exchange, it will now concentrate exclusively on “new energy vehicles,” which is the term the Chinese government uses to describe cars that have electric motors somewhere in their powertrain. Technically, that includes hybrids — what Toyota loves to call “self-charging electric cars” — but the appetite for such cars among Chinese consumers is low, particularly since government incentives for them are disappearing.
Eliminating conventional gasoline-powered cars from its vehicle lineup should have limited impact on the company’s sales figures. In February, BYD sold 90,268 passenger cars, of which 87,473 were NEVs, meaning 96.9% of all BYD cars sold that month had an electric motor in the drivetrain. The latest sales figures for March show 106,658 new energy vehicles were sold by BYD. 106,118 of them were passenger cars and 540 were commercial vehicles. Gasoline only sales were listed as zero in a stock exchange filing.
This doesn’t mean BYD won’t manufacture gasoline engines any longer. All those plug-in hybrids (and any conventional hybrids) will have a gas engine, and production of component parts to support the company’s obligation to support the needs of existing owners with gasoline engines will continue for the time being.
Electrive says the move was not completely unexpected. Last year, BYD CEO Wang Chuanfu told the press the general trend toward new energy vehicles replacing pure combustion vehicles “is already set” by the regulatory framework put in place several years ago by the Chinese government. He said at the time that the phase-out of conventional gasoline-powered cars would happen sometime in 2022, without specifying exactly when it would take place. Wang also said he expects a long transition period from plug-in hybrids to pure electric vehicles.
This may not be Earth-shattering news, but it is one more sign the EV revolution is moving relentlessly forward — faster in some markets (China) and slower in others (the US), but happening nonetheless and accelerating all the time. That is welcome news indeed.
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