Without the help of the U.S. or European markets, China’s BYD has now surpassed Mitsubishi with the third highest cumulative global total of plug-in cars sold.

This is true despite a very slow start late last decade into this decade, but the carmaker is on a roll now, and could very likely have passed Tesla’s cumulative total in October.

All numbers are not in yet, but BYD through September has 161,000 sales in the bag compared to Tesla’s almost 164,000, ranking it third behind Tesla and Renault-Nissan – which leads with nearly 369,000.

BYD is mainly sold in China, with some volume from South America, and through September this year it has reported 74,030 global sales versus Tesla’s 54,043.

The carmaker is now selling more than 10,000 plug-ins per month, and Tesla this year sold an average of about 8,000 per month at its third-quarter peak, with a goal of 25,000 for the fourth quarter.

Late Bloomer

BYD’s big sellers today are the Qin plug-in hybrid and powerful-as-a-Corvette Tang plug-in hybrid (pictured top), but the Warren Buffet backed company was a virtual non-entity car-sales-wise when its F3DM plug-in hybrid launched December 2008.

That car, lacking the help of government subsidies, sold a mere 48 units in 2009, 417 in 2010, 613 in 2011, 1,201 in 2012, and 1,005 in 2013.


It was retired in 2013, and its five-year cumulative total sales of 3,284 were about what Tesla would consider a good month these days for the Model S.

Somewhat better selling has been the BYD e6 all-electric car, launched in China in 2010. This is the one BYD automobile which from 2012-2014 was U.S. EPA certified though it’s only been sold as a limited fleet product at this stage.

The e6 has also seen taxi duty in the UK, Spain, Columbia and other markets.

In 2010, just 33 units were sold in China. In 2011 this increased to 401 units, and followed in 2012 with 1,690, and 1,544 in 2013, 3,560 in 2014, 7,029 in 2015, and 12,890 in 2016.

As you can see the numbers increase dramatically, nearly doubling each year from 2013 forward, and this correlates to when China’s plug-in market started to take off due to government incentives.

E6 Taxi, Rotterdam.

E6 Taxi, Rotterdam.

Benefitting also from the rise of China, which is now the world’s fastest growing plug-in market, were the Qin and Tang.

2013 Qin sales were just 142 units, but in 2014, a total of 14,747 sales made it China’s best seller that year, and it’s never looked back.

In 2015, the Qin sold 31,898, making it again China’s top-selling passenger plug-in car, and this year through September it has 18,391 adding to a total 65,178 cumulative sales.

As for the Tang, this speedster sold 18,175 its first year in 2015, and 26,788 are recorded through September this year – making it China’s 2016 best seller so far, ahead of the Qin.

Other BYD plug-in vehicles include the all-electric e5, launched September 2015 with 10,589 sold through September, the Qin EV300 released March 2016 with 6,798 through September.


Its DENZA EV is a joint venture with Daimler and 2,888 were sold last year.

In all, the company’s plug-in vehicles, including its healthy market share for buses, is carrying the company forward and account for half of the company’s profits. These buses, by the way, do have a foothold in the U.S.

Looking Ahead

As China’s market grows, BYD will attempt to keep its lead as newcomers come into the fray.

SEE ALSO: China Now Ties US For Leadership In Cumulative Global Plug-In Sales

The three biggest markets now are China, Europe and the U.S. and while BYD has managed to beat other brands selling in all these markets with mainly China sales, it will look to expand in due time.

Don’t be surprised if by next decade a BYD dealer pops up near you.

Thanks to Mario R. Duran for help with data.