Chinese EV Companies: Top Leaders in the Global Shift to Electric Vehicles

In the rapidly evolving landscape of electric vehicles (EVs), Chinese manufacturers are emerging as dominant players, reshaping global markets traditionally led by Western automakers. As the U.S. and Europe impose tariffs and trade barriers, China’s EV upstarts are strategically expanding into developing markets, including Brazil, Mexico, and Southeast Asia.

In May, the Biden administration announced plans to slap new tariffs on Chinese EVs, advanced batteries, and other goods intended to protect U.S. manufacturers. Moreover, the European Commission (EU) will impose extra duties of up to 38.1% on imported Chinese electric cars starting in July, raising concerns about possible retaliation from Beijing.

According to data compiled by technology intelligence firm ABI Research for Business Insider, Chinese automakers have already established significant dominance in several emerging markets. In Brazil, China’s carmakers captured around 88% of the EV market, while in Thailand, they held a 70% share during the first quarter.

Despite their current small size, the EV markets in most of these countries are experiencing rapid growth.

Chinese EV companies such as BYD Company Limited (BYDDY), NIO Inc. (NIO), and XPeng Inc. (XPEV) are at the forefront of this transformation, leveraging technological prowess and strategic market expansions to solidify their positions worldwide.

BYD Company Limited (BYDDY)

With a $95.78 billion market cap, BYD Company Limited (BYDDY) is one of China’s leading automobile manufacturers that engages in new EVs and power batteries internationally. The company operates in two segments: Mobile Handset Components, Assembly Service and Other Products; and Automobiles and Related Products and Other Products.

BYDDY’s strategic approach combines technological leadership, market diversification, and strategic partnerships and investments to solidify its position as a frontrunner in the global EV industry. The company has expanded its footprint in regions, including Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and Southeast Asia, capitalizing on growing world demand for EVs.

According to ABI Research figures, BYD accounted for about 71% of EV sales in Brazil and 45% in Thailand in the first quarter.

On May 16, BYD launched its first pickup truck, BYD SHARK, in Mexico. BYD SHARK is positioned as a new energy-intelligent luxury pickup featuring the DMO Super Hybrid Off-road Platform. This model represents the latest addition to BYD's product range, tailored for global markets, marking the company’s first global product launch outside China.

Stella Li, Executive Vice President of BYD and CEO of BYD Americas, said, “With the introduction of our inaugural new energy pickup, BYD SHARK, we’re poised to redefine the conventional fuel pickup landscape through advanced technology, providing users with a lifestyle characterized by boundless opportunities. BYD is now ushering in the era of the global new energy pickup.”

Also, in March, BYDDY launched its third electric car, Seal, a premium electric sedan with a price starting at around $49,458, in India’s booming EV market. In 2023, the company sold 1,877 cars in India, an increase of 314% year-over-year.

Notably, in the same month, BYD Company became the world’s first automaker to roll off its seven millionth new energy vehicle, the DENZA N7, which was introduced at its Jinan factory in China, underscoring another groundbreaking accomplishment for the brand.

For the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, BYDDY’s operating revenue increased 4% year-over-year to RMB124.94 billion ($17.20 billion). Net profit attributable to shareholders of the listed company rose 10.6% from the year-ago value to RMB4.57 billion ($629.28 million). Its earnings per share came in at RMB1.57, up 10.6% from the previous year’s quarter.

Analysts expect BYDDY’s revenue and EPS for the fiscal year (ending December 2024) to increase 25.7% and 15.9% year-over-year to $104.92 billion and $3.14, respectively. For the fiscal year 2025, the company’s revenue and EPS are expected to grow 13.3% and 9.2% from the prior year to $118.86 billion and $3.43, respectively.

BYDDY’s stock is up nearly 14% over the past month and has gained more than 11% year-to-date.

NIO Inc. (NIO)

With a $9.27 billion market cap, NIO Inc. (NIO) has gained prominence for its focus on high-performance, smart EVs and innovative battery-swapping technology. Based in Shanghai, China, the company provides five and six-seater electric SUVs, as well as smart electric sedans. It also offers power solutions, including Power Home, Power Swap, Power Charger and Destination Charger, Power Mobile, Power Map, and more.

Besides its solid presence in China, NIO has established footholds in global markets such as Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Europe, aiming to capitalize on the growing demand for luxury EVs. Moreover, NIO plans to expand to the Middle East in 2024, CEO William Li stated on an earnings call, adding that deliveries of its lowest-priced brand will begin in the first half of the following year.

On April 8, NIO officially inaugurated its Smart Driving Technology Center in Schönefeld near Berlin. It is the first center outside China, underscoring the company's expanding international footprint.

NIO delivered 20,544 vehicles in May, indicating a substantial increase of 233.8% year-over-year. The deliveries comprised 12,164 premium smart electric SUVs and 8,380 premium smart electric sedans. Also, in April, the company delivered 15,620 vehicles. As of May 31, 2024, cumulative deliveries of NIO vehicles reached a staggering 515,811.

“Despite the intensifying market competition, NIO’s premium brand positioning, industry-leading technologies, and innovative ‘chargeable, swappable, upgradeable’ power experience have been recognized for their exceptional competitiveness, leading to solid sequential growth in vehicle deliveries in recent months,” said William Bin Li, chairman and CEO of NIO.

“In April 2024, we launched the 2024 ET7 Executive Edition, featuring 180 upgrades tailored to the needs of business travelers and professionals, further enhancing our competitiveness in the premium sedan market. In addition, with a commitment to create better family life, our new smart electric vehicle brand, ONVO, along with its inaugural product L60, was unveiled in May 2024,” he added.

Further, NIO extended its strategic cooperation on battery swapping by collaborating with GAC Group and FAW Group. These add to NIO’s existing network of strategic alliances with Changan Automobile, Geely Group, JAC Group, Chery Automobile, and Lotus Technology. NIO remains dedicated to advancing its evolving battery-swapping ecosystem, aiming to deliver efficient and convenient recharging solutions for its customers.

During the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, NIO reported vehicle sales of $1.16 billion, and its total revenues were $1.37 billion. Its gross profit grew 200.5% from the prior year’s quarter to $67.60 million. As of March 31, 2024, the company’s cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, short-term investment and long-term time deposits stood at $6.30 billion.

Analysts expect NIO’s revenue for the fiscal year (ending December 2024) to increase 21.4% year-over-year to $9.38 billion. Likewise, the company’s revenue for the fiscal year 2025 is anticipated to grow 43.7% year-over-year to $13.48 billion. Also, NIO’s stock has surged approximately 2% over the past five days.

XPeng Inc. (XPEV)

With a $7.48 billion market capitalization, XPeng Inc. (XPEV) designs, develops, and markets Smart EVs in China that appeals to the large, growing base of tech-savvy consumers. It provides SUVs under the G3, G3i, and G9 names; four-door sports sedans under the P7 and P7i names; and family sedans under the P5 name.

XPeng’s competitive pricing appeals to budget-conscious consumers without compromising quality or innovation. The company has expanded its operations into Europe and Southeast Asia, leveraging local partnerships and market insights to adapt its offerings to regional preferences.

XPEV delivered 10,146 Smart EVs in May, an increase of 35% year-over-year and 8% over the previous month. The XPENG X9 notably achieved monthly deliveries of 1,625 units, reaching a cumulative total of 11,456 units. Since its launch, it has continuously led sales in both the all-electric MPV and three-row model segments in China. XPENG has delivered 41,360 Smart EVs year-to-date, marking a 26% rise year-over-year.

On May 20, XPEV launched XOS 5.1.0, Tianji, the industry’s first AI-powered in-car OS. It features end-to-end large model technology, promoting the smart driving experience for XPENG car owners. The company will offer intelligent and personalized in-car AI assistant services through AI assistant Xiao P, AI Chauffeur, and AI Bodyguard. The recent launch outlines XPeng’s new market positioning as the global pioneer and promoter of AI smart driving.

In the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, XPEV’s total revenues increased 62.3% year-over-year to $910 million, and revenues from vehicle sales were $770 million, up 57.8% from the prior year’s quarter. The company’s gross margin was 12.9% for the first quarter, compared to 1.7% for the same period of 2023. As of March 31, 2024, its cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, short-term investments and time deposits were $5.73 billion.

XPENG’s physical sales network reached 574 stores, covering about 178 cities as of March 31, 2024. Also, its self-operated charging station network had a total of 1,171 stations, including 359 XPENG S4 ultra-fast charging stations, at the end of the first quarter.

Xiaopeng He, Chairman and CEO of XPENG, further stated, “Through our strategic partnership with the Volkswagen Group, XPENG is at the forefront of monetizing in-house developed smart technologies as a technology enabler. Our industry-leading technologies are expected to gain greater market influence and yield better financial returns.”

Street expects XPEV’s revenue for the second quarter (ending June 2024) to increase 63.2% year-over-year to $1.13 billion. Similarly, the consensus revenue estimate for the fiscal year (ending December 2024) of $6.12 billion indicates an improvement of 43.6% year-over-year. Also, the company has topped the consensus revenue and EPS estimates in three of the trailing four quarters.

Shares of XPEV have surged more than 7% over the past five days.

Bottom Line

China’s EV newcomers seem to be strategizing for global dominance. They are expanding into developing markets, including Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, and India, amid tariff and trade barriers imposed by the U.S. and Europe.

Chinese manufacturers like BYDDY, NIO, and XPEV are leveraging their technological prowess and strategic market expansions to establish themselves as leaders in the global EV industry. These companies lead in cost-effective manufacturing and are at the forefront of advancements in battery technology, autonomous driving, and user-centric design.

With ambitious global expansion plans and a commitment to sustainability, these China-based EV giants are poised to reshape the automotive industry, setting new standards for electric mobility worldwide.