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BYD Atto 3
BYD Atto 3. Image courtesy of BYD.


Tesla & BYD Record Orders In Thailand Show That Emerging Markets Are Starved Of EVs

Who said there was no demand for EVs? EV sales keep breaking records in Europe, China, and other places. For example, Norway’s EV market share for new vehicle sales is now consistently well over 80% every single month. In China, the world’s largest market, EVs now have a market share of around 30% of new vehicle sales. What really excites me, though, is news of OEMs entering new markets and doing well there in a short space of time.

BYD has been on a very aggressive overseas expansion drive and now has a presence in Mauritius, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Cambodia, Nepal, Malaysia, and Thailand — along with several other markets. BYD sales are reported to be quite good since launching in those markets. For example, BYD was quick out the blocks in Israel and was already topping the EV charts in the country with the BYD Atto 3. The Atto 3 was also 3rd in the overall standings across all drivetrains in November.

In Thailand again, news is that the Atto 3 has received over 10,000 orders in just one month! To show just how big demand for EVs in Thailand is, news is that Tesla has received over 5,000 orders in just a few days since launch! This goes to show that there is great demand for EVs at the right price point in these kinds of markets. The Atto 3 starts at the equivalent of $31,500 in Thailand. The Tesla Model 3 starts from about $50,000 in Thailand.

This quick uptake of Tesla and BYD models shows that if good EVs are officially available at the right price point, the market will respond quickly. EV enthusiasts in Thailand had been independently and unofficially importing Teslas, for example.

Last month, BYD produced a new record 230,129 EVs, up from just 91,829 at the same time last year. Battery electric vehicles and plugin hybrid vehicles are called “new energy vehicles” (NEVs) in China, and BYD is the leader in terms of volumes of NEVs sold. BYD plans to produce at least 300,000 NEVs per month very soon. Tesla is also ramping up production at various sites. This should give the two frontrunners in the EV space some room to expand into more emerging markets, which BYD is already doing. SAIC and Hyundai/Kia are also ramping up nicely. SAIC’s MG brand is doing very well in Europe. The brand is also available in India and Thailand.

We need to accelerate the transition to electric mobility ASAP. That means getting all serious players in the EV industry to not focus only on established markets in rich nations but also important emerging markets where they can also sell EVs in decent volumes as we are seeing now in Thailand. Indonesia, Malaysia (BYD recently launched there), South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and others should also be key focus markets for these firms.

There are now close to 20 million EVs on the roads, mostly in developed markets. It took us about 12 years since the launch of the Nissan LEAF and the Tesla Model S to get here. But as OEMs ramp up and hopefully enter more markets, we should see the next 20 million hit the road much quicker than that.

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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