The world's largest supplier of electric and hybrid cars has ruled out building its first European car factory in the UK due to Brexit.
China's BYD has set out ambitious plans to dominate the region's electric vehicle market this decade, aiming to sell one in ten battery-powered cars by 2030 and be among the top three electric vehicle brands in Europe.
But its European chairman, Michael Shu, said the UK isn't even among the top 10 possible locations for its first European factory, with a shortlist of sites in Germany, France, Spain, Poland and Poland, Hungary.
“As investors, we want a country to be stable. To open a factory. . . has been a decision for decades,” he told the Financial Times.
“Maybe without Brexit. But after Brexit we don't understand what happened," he added. “The UK doesn't have a very good solution. Even on the long list we didn't have the UK.
The group, backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, aims to increase sales to around 800,000 models in Europe by 2030, with at least one car factory in the region. It already manufactures buses in the region.
The UK is struggling to attract investment from new electric vehicle companies, with Tesla also citing Brexit for its decision to bypass the UK in favor of Germany.
Additionally, several UK-based automakers face key factory decisions this year.
BYD, which stands for "Build your dreams" and started developing batteries in 1995, is planning a global sales offensive for pure electric vehicles. The company aims to become India's second largest electric vehicle supplier within a year.
The company believes that a vertically integrated model, where it makes most of the vehicle parts and fully controls the electronics and battery systems, sets it apart from other automakers that buy technology.
In Europe, BYD is considering both new sites and existing plants to gain a foothold in the region's "highly competitive" auto industry, Shu said.
One option is to buy the Ford plant in Saarlouis in Germany. Shu said the US automaker has been "very aggressive" in its negotiations, although both sides have "good communication."
A decision is likely later this year, with the aim of producing the first vehicles from 2025.
The company has sites in China capable of producing more than a million vehicles a year, and the company may well decide to develop a single mega-site in the region to meet its near-term needs.
BYD is one of a few Chinese automakers looking to enter the highly competitive European auto market with electric vehicles.
It launched three models in Europe in a handful of markets including Norway and Germany.
The company has launched the Atto3 in the UK, a compact sport utility vehicle that is the first model to use its new electric skateboard system, which integrates the battery directly into the vehicle's chassis for increased efficiency.
The car is already being sold in India and China, where it was the best-selling compact SUV.
The company will launch a pilot program for its own charging network due to the "awful" state of the current infrastructure, Shu said.
The pilot scheme will involve the use of static batteries for energy storage, allowing them to quickly charge cars without requiring expensive high-speed connections to the national grid.
Shu added, "It's different from the Tesla supercharger because Tesla is close to the grid, but we're close to the customer."
The company has partnered with existing dealerships to set up showrooms across the region, believing it's a better way to reach customers than Tesla's preferred direct sales model.
It will use Pendragon, Arnold Clark, Lookers and LSH in the UK, he announced.