The sole Thai distributor of China-based electric vehicle maker BYD will triple its dealerships in Thailand in two years, it said, helping to cement the Chinese automaker’s dominant position in its top overseas market, Reuters reported on Friday.

BYD overtook Tesla in the fourth quarter last year as the world’s biggest EV maker. The company’s expansion in Thailand underscores its global push – especially in markets where its US rival has yet to become a major vendor – amid slower EV sales growth in its home market China, the report added.

Rever Automotive, the distributor that helped launch BYD in Thailand in late 2022, will add 200 dealerships by end-2025, expand commercial vehicles offerings and enter new passenger car segments, CEO Pratarnwong Phornprapha told Reuters.

“By the end of this year, we’ll have 200. And the next year, we’re planning for another 100,” Pratarnwong was quoted as saying.”I think around 300 for us is a healthy number.”

Rever currently has around 100 outlets, establishing BYD as the dominant carmaker in the fast-growing Thai EV market with a 40% market share, according to Pratarnwong.

BYD sold a total 3 million passenger vehicles in 2023, with more than 90 percent of those going into the China market, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association.

Overseas sales amounted to around 242,000 units and Thailand accounted for around 20 percent of BYD’s international sales in the third quarter, according to research firm Counterpoint, maintaining its spot as the automaker’s largest overseas market, where it is also investing 17.9 billion baht ($504 million) to build a factory scheduled to open this year, Reuters’ report added.

EV sales in Thailand made up a little over 7 percent of all passenger vehicle sales in the country in the third quarter of 2023, Counterpoint data also showed, but it is one of the fastest growing EV markets in Southeast Asia, aided by government subsidies and policies.

According to Reuters’, late last year, the Thai government approved a scaled down subsidy package for the EV industry, although still offering up to 100,000 baht ($2,764) per vehicle and lower import duties and excise taxes.

Thailand plans to convert about 30 percent of its annual production of 2.5 million vehicles into EVs by 2030 and has attracted more than $1.44 billion in investments from Chinese auto companies, according to Reuters.

BYD has been outperforming other automakers in Southeast Asia’s EV market, bolstered by partnerships with local distributors and affordable models such as the Atto 3 SUV, which was the region’s bestselling electric auto in the third quarter.

In Malaysia, BYD has partnered with Sime Darby Motors to bring the EV brand to the country. BYD was launched in December 2022. In a research note dated Jan 18, RHB Research house said within the EV sphere, BYD led the local Malaysia EV adoption as it accounted for 37 percent of the total local EV market in 2023 – just nine months
since its maiden foray into Malaysia.

On Thursday, BYD unveiled three battery EV models in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, where BYD is also planning to invest $1.3 billion in an assembly plant.

“Roughly, I think we have to get into MPVs, we have to get into bigger size SUVs, and smaller size sedans, bigger size sedans,” Pratarnwong was quoted as saying.

Rever currently offers three BYD EV models in Thailand: the Seal sedan, the Atto 3 SUV and the Dolphin hatchback.
Besides passenger cars, Rever is looking to make inroads into commercial fleets using BYD vehicles and technology, including for taxis, short-haul trucks and vans, and buses, according to Reuters.

Thailand had over 81,000 registered taxis as of September 2023, according to government data, and Rever is aiming to capture 40 percent of the new vehicles entering that market, said Pratarnwong.

Rever is also offering the BYD T3 van for limited distance deliveries that picked up during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Rever Vice CEO Pratarnporn Phornprapha.

“There’s a lot of short haul deliveries going on,” she said. “It’s a huge chunk which we wanted to focus on.”
Pratarnwong and Pratarnporn are siblings hailing from the Phornprapha family that established the Siam Motors Group (SMG), which helped develop Thailand’s automotive industry. Rever is independent from SMG, Pratarnwong has previously said.

A Rever subsidiary is also building a bus production facility that will use BYD technology, with the first chassis likely to roll out in the third quarter, Pratarnwong was quoted as saying.

“This year will be the year that we properly attack the commercial market,” he said.

A closer look at Warren Buffett-backed Chinese EV giant BYD’s plan in Malaysia