Tesla gigafactory orders see LG Chem supplant BYD as third biggest global battery supplier

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Chinese carmaker BYD suffered a 61% year-on-year decline in battery shipments in August to surrender its position as the world’s third largest battery maker to South Korean rival LG Chem.

Figures published by South Korean business intelligence company SNE Research spelled out the dramatic turnaround in fortunes with BYD suffering from steep falls in Chinese electric vehicle (EV) subsidies just as LG was lifted by big orders for Tesla’s Shanghai gigafactory.

Beijing slashed public subsidies for electric vehicles in half in July, dramatically slowing sales in the world’s biggest EV marketplace.

Orders slump

The knock-on effect was a dramatic reduction in shipments for BYD’s battery business, which caters almost entirely to its own EV unit in China. The market shock prompted the company to attempt to make inroads into battery supply to electric carmaking rivals but the SNE Research figures indicate BYD has made little progress on that front.

By contrast, orders for LG products placed by Tesla for the Shanghai facility which will produce battery cells and Model 3 and Model Y cars lifted shipment volumes 80% in August for the Korean supplier, compared with the figure for August 2018. That was enough to see LG take advantage of BYD’s struggles and supplant it as world number three.

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) is still China’s largest battery manufacturer and supplier thanks to its emphasis on large scale energy storage over electric vehicle supply, and will stand ready to exploit the market share conceded by domestic rival BYD.