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Asia Minute: China’s drive for electric vehicles and batteries is picking up speed

China Economy Chinese automaker BYD store
Ng Han Guan/AP
People visit a Chinese automaker BYD store on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

If you drive an electric vehicle, you are part of a growing trend both here in Hawaiʻi and nationally. While Tesla still tops the sales charts, figures out this week show increasing strength coming from China.

China’s largest domestic automaker is coming on fast with global sales of electric and hybrid vehicles.

BYD reports it sold more than 641,000 in the first half of this year — about half of them all-electric, powered by batteries. That’s up more than 300% from a year ago.

Tesla reports it has sold more than half a million all-electric vehicles so far this year.

About half of those were built in China at Tesla’s Shanghai plant. That's despite the fact that production there was disrupted by a COVID shutdown earlier this quarter.

Tesla is still the global leader for all-electric vehicles, while BYD is number two.

BYD is now also number two in the production of electric vehicle batteries, surpassing South Korea’s LG Energy Solution and trailing only CATL, another Chinese company.

Investors are keeping a watch on the stock prices of both BYD and Tesla.

U.S. investor Warren Buffett owns nearly 8% of BYD’s shares — which are up by nearly 20% this year, and by more than a third since January.

Tesla’s stock price is off by about a third this year. Expect more news about its production in China when the company reports quarterly earnings in two weeks.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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