The article was originally published in Chinese, translated by the MW team into English.

Many Chinese electric vehicle companies have been accelerating their overseas expansion, and BYD is among the more aggressive ones. 

According to data released by the Land Transport Authority of Singapore, BYD surpassed Tesla to be the leading / best-selling electric vehicle brand in Singapore during the first five months of this year, registering 303 electric vehicles in the city state.      

The complete list is as follows:

The number of electric vehicles registered in Singapore from January to May was 1,462, while the total number of vehicles in all categories was 10,892. 

This number may seem small to many people, considering that Tesla’s Shanghai factory can produce over 75,000 vehicles in a month

However, Singapore itself is a small country and has long controlled the number of vehicles by the lever of cost (through Certificate of Entitlement as well as taxes).

Among the well-known brands on the top selling list, half of them have seen a decrease in market share, which, to some extent, reflects the competition in the local EV market. 

Opel and Volvo are the new faces on the electric vehicle list this year, both introducing pure electric models in addition to existing gas-powered lineups.

Last month, Elon Musk stated that Tesla would “try a little advertising” to boost sales. Shortly after, Tesla released their first promotional short film featuring a Singapore customer on their official Twitter account.

Currently, BYD has adopted many proactive expansion measures in Singapore, such as preparing to launch more models, including a local compact car model called Dolphin in July.

Another interesting news is that yesterday (June 13th), BYD and their Singapore dealer launched the “BYD by 1826” themed restaurant at Boat Quay, a dining and entertainment area located in the city center. It is not a car showroom but an actual restaurant. According to media reports, BYD aims to express its concept of “change in lifestyle” through this unconventional marketing strategy.

Although the expansion is in full swing, the Singapore EV market does face significant challenges. Here are some data for friends who are not familiar with the electric vehicle market in Singapore:

Tesla entered the Singaporean market in early 2021, and the Model Y is the most popular model, repeatedly topping the electric vehicle sales charts. The current price of the rear-wheel-drive version of Model Y is S$132,620 (~US$ 99,000), and with the Certificate of Entitlement (around S$ 120,000 / ~US$ 89,600), the total price is approximately US$ 188,600. The equivalent model in China is priced at RMB 264,000 (~US$ 36,900). 

According to data released by the official WeChat account of the brand, the best-selling BYD model in Singapore is the BYD ATTO 3. The 100kW model is priced at S$ 183,888 (~US$ 137,300), including the Certificate of Entitlement, while the 150 kW series is priced at S$ 202,888 (US$ 151,400), including the Certificate of Entitlement too. The corresponding model in China, the Yuan Plus, is priced at only RMB 130,000-160,000 (US$ 18,200 – US$ 22,400). 

Due to the high cost of the Certificate of Entitlement, electric vehicles do not have much price advantage, and combined with the underdeveloped charging infrastructure and insufficient electric vehicle supporting facilities, the overall proportion of electric vehicles on the roads in Singapore is not significant. 

According to data published by the LTA, as of the end of May, there were a total of 7,961 electric cars on the road, accounting for only 1.2% of the total number of cars.

These factors have influenced the decisions of Chinese electric vehicle brands on whether to enter the Singapore market. Nevertheless, regardless of the circumstances, Singapore is a city frequented by everyone influential, and is an ideal place to have some brand presence for any EV brand. 

Looking at other regions in Southeast Asia, the challenges can be greater. Not every government is as aggressive as the Chinese government in promoting EV, and executing that promotion. 

However, the ability to tackle challenging markets is oftentimes a moat by itself. 


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