Chinese electric vehicle (EV) frontrunner BYD is making significant strides in Southeast Asia’s growing EV market, largely due to its distribution partnerships with prominent local conglomerates. Over the past few years, BYD has forged alliances with key players in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia to expand its market reach and establish a strong foothold in the region.
In Malaysia and Singapore, BYD vehicles are sold through Sime Darby Motors, the automotive division of Sime Darby, a leading Malaysian trading and logistics conglomerate. The partnership between BYD and Sime Darby Motors began in 2019 with the distribution of BYD EVs in Singapore. Since then, Sime Darby Motors has established a dealership network of seven outlets in Singapore and, more recently, took on the distributorship for Malaysia. With nine dealerships currently operating across Malaysia and plans to open another 12 outlets in the near future, Sime Darby Motors aims to further boost BYD’s presence in both countries.
In Thailand, BYD has partnered with Rever Automotive, a distribution and after-sales company. Thailand serves as BYD’s largest overseas market, and the Chinese automaker is investing close to $500 million to establish a new production facility in the country. Rever Automotive, backed by the influential Siam Motors Group, has played a pivotal role in expanding BYD’s market share in Thailand. Currently, Rever Automotive operates 62 dealer locations nationwide that sell BYD vehicles.
In the Philippines, BYD has joined forces with AC Motors, a subsidiary of Filipino conglomerate Ayala Corp. AC Motors, which already sells Japanese and European car brands, plans to set up 12 BYD dealerships across the Philippines within the next year. The partnership is supported by a reduction in tariffs to stimulate the growth of the EV market in the country.
In Indonesia, BYD has chosen Bakrie & Brothers, a prominent player in the manufacturing and infrastructure sector, as its distributor for EV buses. The partnership between BYD and VKTR, a unit of Bakrie & Brothers, began in 2018 and has thus far delivered 52 electric buses to the local government of Jakarta. Bakrie & Brothers is currently in discussions with multiple Indonesian companies for commercial orders of BYD buses and does not have immediate plans to enter the passenger car segment.
Overall, BYD’s partnerships with these large conglomerates have allowed the Chinese EV manufacturer to gain an early advantage in Southeast Asia’s burgeoning EV market. With a focus on expanding their dealership networks, investing in production facilities, and capitalizing on tariff reductions, BYD and its regional partners are well-positioned to further shape the future of electric mobility in the region.