China’s EV giant BYD wants curbs on “disorderly” imports in line with move into Uzbekistan

China’s EV giant BYD wants curbs on “disorderly” imports in line with move into Uzbekistan
The carmaker's strategy for Uzbekistan could lead to some heated exchanges with consumers, though. / Matti Blume, cc-by-sa 2.0
By bne IntelliNews March 19, 2024

China’s BYD Auto, the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, has asked Tashkent to limit the “disorderly” import of EVs into Uzbekistan in tandem with its production move into the country.

The development has prompted some objections relayed by local media over how BYD and Uzbek partner Uzavtosanoat (UzAuto) are looking for EV market dominance in the Central Asian nation that won’t be to the benefit of the consumer and will mean unfair competition for rivals.

The request in relation to the imports was outlined in a presidential decree issued on March 18. The decree dealt with matters in relation to the approval of an investment agreement with BYD on establishing the production of EV and hybrid vehicles, as well as components for EVs and hybrids, in Uzbekistan.

The text of the decree states that the investor, namely BYD, asked the government to “limit the indiscriminate import of electric vehicles that do not meet local climatic and road conditions, and do not have an official guarantee”.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has instructed officials of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade, as well as the state-controlled UzAuto automaker, to by July 1 submit to the Cabinet proposals aimed at meeting the investor’s demand on regulating imports.

UzAuto—a maker of Chevrolet cars under licence—and Netherlands-based BYD Europe B.V. have created a joint venture, BYD Uzbekistan Factory, to produce EVs in Uzbekistan’s central-eastern Jizzakh region. The Uzbek company holds 60% of the JV, and BYD Europe 40%.

Initial production at the plant started in January with a Song Plus hybrid crossover.

Once in scaled-up production mode, the venture’s auto plant is to target annual output of 500,000 EVs in the near future.

The introductory authorised capital of BYD Uzbekistan Factory is Uzbekistani som (UZS) 55bn ($4.4mn).

As part of his state visit to China in January, Mirziyoyev visited the headquarters of BYD.

On the visit, the Uzbek leader also supported BYD plans to begin assembling BYD electric buses in Uzbekistan.

At the end of December, reported on a draft government resolution that outlined proposals to prohibit individuals from importing cars for commercial purposes and restore the procedure under which new foreign cars can only be sold through official dealers. However, the draft was not adopted.

BYD in the last quarter of 2023 dislodged Tesla as the world’s top seller of EVs.

The growing heft of China’s car exports has been causing friction with the US and Europe.

Chinese automakers are increasingly building car factories in overseas markets.

BYD is also setting up production lines in Thailand, Brazil and Hungary. 

Chery Auto, China's largest automaker by export volume, is setting up a factory in Argentina, talking to the Italian government about creating a plant in Italy and considering building a plant in the UK. It already has a factory in Brazil.

SAIC, China's second-largest auto exporter with its MG-branded cars, is looking for a site in Europe to set up an EV plant.