China EV giant BYD to sell passenger cars in Japan from 2023

The Japanese arm of Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD it will begin selling passenger cars in Japan beginning 2023, with the company expected to face fierce competition from Western and domestic automakers.

BYD Japan announced during a press conference in Tokyo that it is planning to release an SUV, compact car and EV sedan in sequential order, but refrained from announcing a price band.

We would like to promote (the vehicles) at an accessible price range while remaining mindful of market conditions,” an executive of BYD Japan said.

Its SUV “Atto 3,” which was released in China in February this year and has a cruising range of 485 kilometers, will make its debut in Japan in January 2023.

The compact car and sedan, to become available in 2023 or later, both have cruising ranges of around 500 km.

The announcement comes on the heels of Mercedes-Benz Japan Co. announcing it will increase its EV models from two to five this year, while Audi Japan, the Japanese unit of German luxury automaker Audi AG, has doubled the number of models to eight from the previous year.

According to the Japan Automobile Importers Association, the makeup of imported vehicles has surged from 5.9 percent of the country’s total new EV sales in 2014 to 40.6 percent in 2021.

Meanwhile, domestic automakers have been attempting to catch up, with Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors jointly releasing a new EV in June. Toyota Motor has implemented a flat-rate subscription service for its new EVs.

BYD ranked second in the global EV market share between January and June, selling around 320,000 vehicles. It gained a foothold in Japan through EV buses, making up around 70 percent of the domestic demand.