BYD nears huge Mexico EV plant deal with 50,000 sales in sight this year

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China’s leading automaker, BYD, is rapidly expanding its global footprint. BYD is closing in on a deal for an EV plant in Mexico, which is expected to be among the biggest in the region.

After already becoming an EV leader in overseas markets like Thailand, Israel, and Australia, BYD is rapidly expanding its presence in South America.

BYD began construction on its manufacturing plant in Brazil earlier this year. Once up and running, it will produce BYD’s top-selling EVs, including the Dolphin, Dolphin Mini (Seagull), and Yuan Plus.

Sales are surging after launching its cheapest EV in Brazil in March, the $20,000 (99,800 BRL) Seagull (called the Dolphin Mini overseas).

According to data from Brazil’s Ministry of Development, Industry, Trade, and Services, passenger car imports were up 46.4% YOY in the first three months of 2024. Chinese vehicles accounted for 40% of the total, as imports surged 450% from Q1 2023.

BYD led the growth with nearly 15,000 of the total 36,090 EVs sold in Brazil in Q1. China’s GWM was second with 5,735, while Toyota took third with 5,049.

BYD Dolphin Mini (Seagull) testing in Brazil (Source: BYD)

BYD is opening a massive EV plant in Mexico

Reports have been swirling about BYD building an EV plant in Mexico for some time as the automaker expands its North American footprint.

In February, Zhou Zou confirmed BYD is considering a factory in the country. Zou explained that Mexico is a key market with great potential. It could also be used as an export hub to other overseas markets.

BYD Dolphin (left) and Atto 3 (right) Source: BYD

Mexico is quickly becoming a hot spot for EV investments. Kia revealed it will build EVs in the region. BMW, Stellantis, and Tesla are also planning to build electric models.

According to Jorge Vallejo, BYD’s general director in Mexico (via Automotive News), the new EV plant will create around 10,000 jobs. This would make it one of the largest in the country, on par with Volkswagen’s Audi.

BYD Shark launch event (Source: BYD)

The VW Group’s Puebla plant is the largest employer in the city, with roughly 6,100 assembly and 5,000 supervisor employees. That doesn’t include the thousands of other workers who work in parts assembly.

According to Vallejo, BYD is expected to sell 50,000 vehicles in Mexico this year. An official announcement about the Mexico plant is expected in the next few months.

BYD Shark PHEV pickup (Source: BYD)

The news comes after BYD launched its first pickup, the Shark PHEV, in Mexico last month. Starting at $53,400 (899,980 pesos), the BYD Shark will rival other top pickups in the region, like the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger.

According to BYD, the Shark pickup has 7.5 L per 100 km fuel consumption, about 40% less than a full gas-powered truck. BYD plans to launch the Shark PHEV globally, and Mexico will likely be a key part of its overseas expansion.

Electrek’s Take

After the EU revealed plans for additional tariffs on Chinese EV imports, BYD seems to be unfazed in its quest to expand globally.

With higher prices, BYD makes more on EVs sold in Europe than in China. Local production in Mexico, like Thailand, Brazil, and Europe, will enable lower prices and higher profits.

Mexico is already a key player in the EV market. However, with Canada now also calling for additional tariffs on Chinese imports, Mexico will likely see more investments as automakers look to enter the US market.

Meanwhile, BYD is taking on other markets, including South Korea. BYD plans to launch low-cost EVs like the Seal in Korea, where domestic automakers like Hyundai and Kia control the market.

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