SHANGHAI (Reuters) – BYD was the top-selling car brand in China in the first four weeks of November, brokerage data showed, outperforming the Volkswagen brand in a reversal that highlights the pressure on legacy brands in the world’s largest auto market.
Tesla’s retail sales in China also nearly doubled in November, from a year earlier, after the U.S. automaker cut prices and offered incentives on its Model 3 and Model Y, the data from China Merchants Bank International (CMBI) showed.
Retail sales for BYD totaled 152,863 vehicles from Nov. 1 to Nov. 27, logging a nearly 83% increase in average daily sales compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the data.
BYD’s tally was higher than Volkswagen’s retail sales of 143,602 retail sales and Toyota Motor Corp’s 115,272, which were 0.3% and 0.5% lower, respectively, on the year.
However, the Volkswagen AG group still outsold BYD, when the 36,847 units sold under the Audi brand are included.
If the retail sales trend holds for the full month, it would be the first time that BYD, which only began making cars in 2003, has topped the sales charts in China and the first time a company with a line up of plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles (EVs) has led the charts.
Automakers have been bracing for a wider downturn in China’s market on the view that the effect of incentives is waning and that the country’s zero-COVID policies have kept consumers away from showrooms and weighed on sentiment as the economy slows.
Overall retail sales of cars produced in China fell 7% year-on-year in terms of average daily sales in the first four weeks of November, compared to the 2% decline in the first three weeks of October, according to CMBI data.
Established global carmakers, other than Tesla, have been losing sales and market share tumble in China to their domestic rivals who win consumers with a wider range of affordable EVs and features like in-car entertainment and autonomous drive.
Stellantis said in October that its Jeep joint venture in China would file for bankruptcy, the first JV failure by a foreign brand in the EV era.
Other established brands, including Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford and Hyundai, have seen plant usage in China fall by between 30 percentage points and over 50 percentage points in the past five years.
(Reporting by Zhang Yan, Brenda Gohá¹…; Editing by Savio D’Souza)