15 Dec , 2022 By : Monika Singh
BYD might not be a well-known brand in India, but what will surprise many is that they are the world’s largest EV maker in the world. We caught up with Sanjay Gopalakrishnan, Senior Vice President of the Electric Passenger Vehicle Business, BYD India who tells us what the company has been doing in India for the last 15 years, about its latest vehicle, the Atto 3 and much more.
BYD has been in India for 15 years. Could you tell us what the company has been doing here?
BYD started out as an electronic division in India in 2007 by manufacturing mobile phones and structural components for mobile phones. We carried on this division for 6-7 years before we ventured into the automotive business. We started trial testing on our first vehicle, an electric bus, in 2013 and later in 2017, it was launched.
BYD is the technical partner with Olectra Greentech where we provide the battery and the chassis and then we pass it to Olectra who builds the body and sells it. That is when our auto business officially started. In 2019, we got into the electric forks sector, which is a niche business in India. Our passenger vehicle business kicked off in November 2021 with the BYD E6 and since then we have sold over 600 units. Now, we expanded the PV business with the Atto 3 SUV and the deliveries will begin in January.
Did the company feel that a brand awareness campaign was required so that potential customers would be aware of what BYD is all about?
In the passenger vehicle segment, we wanted to highlight the strengths of BYD like battery and technology. This is the reason why we started from the B2B sector with big cars offering a longer range and in time private vehicle owners also started accepting the brand because of its practicality and technology. We spoke a lot about the Blade battery and in this way, a lot of people got to know about the technology. Next year, we will speak about more new technology that will be offered including the new e-Platform 3.0. Also, test-driving vehicles played an important role. In the case of the E6, it took a lot of demo and concept selling to make customers aware of the brand.
The dealer and service network plays an important part. What is BYD’s plan to expand its footprint in India?
We are aiming to open at least 24 outlets by the end of 2022, covering almost 22 cities. Next year we plan to have 53 outlets along with workshop facilities across the country. We are also ensuring that there is no shortage of spare parts.
Electric charging infrastructure is a challenge and we have seen many companies partner up and set up car charging stations. What are BYD’s plans?
We have plans of setting up fast chargers in our showrooms and workshops to enhance customers’ experience. We also have a tie-up with home-charging partners who will set up chargers for BYD Atto 3 customers. We also have tied up with public charging companies like Recharge to help with public infrastructure. This is very helpful for fleet owners.
What is the capacity of the BYD Chennai plant and what number are you looking at next year?
Our target for next year is 15,000 vehicles, including the E6 and the Atto 3. We are looking at stabilising the brand in India. Phase 2 or phase 3 is where we could start looking at manufacturing in India. End of the day, everything depends on the demand and how the volume is increasing.
Blade technology is renowned along with BYD’s platform. Could you tell us how this makes the company stand apart from others in the market?
Integration is the key and that gives us flexibility unlike converting an ICE platform for an EV. This ensures that there is no range anxiety for the customer and a longer life for the battery. As we have the experience of manufacturing batteries for 25 years, all this is possible.
What is BYD’s target audience?
When you have to establish a technology brand then you have to look at premium customers because they have travelled abroad and understand the features and capability. We are targeting customers who are looking for an electric car as their second and third mode of transportation for both intra-city and inter-city. Based on the bookings, 40 percent of our customers are luxury car owners who have BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audis in their garage. Once we establish the technology premiumness then we can play around with different types of vehicles.