BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Co Ltd, backed by U.S. investor Warren Buffett, reported on Sunday a 632 percent jump in its first-quarter net profit, buoyed by strong demand for its new energy vehicles.
The Shenzhen-based car and battery maker, which has a joint venture with Daimler AG in China, said last month it expected first-quarter profit to rise by up to nearly 800 percent.
Profit surged to 749.73 million yuan ($111.4 million), up from just 102.4 million yuan a year ago, when its earnings fell sharply due to cuts to subsidies for electric vehicles.
BYD said it expected half-year net profit to rise to 1.45 billion yuan to 1.65 billion yuan, versus 479.1 million yuan in the same period last year.
“New energy vehicles are expected to continue to sell well in the second quarter, and new energy vehicle sales and revenues continue to maintain strong growth,” the company said in a stock exchange filing, adding that new passenger and commercial vehicle models will help boost revenue.
China’s market for electric cars is booming, but profits in the sector have been squeezed by fierce competition between established firms and rival startups, as well as moves by Beijing to cut subsidies for the market to improve product quality and standards.
The company sold 117,578 vehicles in the first three months this year, up 5.2 percent from a year earlier. BYD, whose popular models include its Tang-series electric cars, has said it aims to sell 650,000 vehicles in 2019.
Overall electric car sales in China jumped 61.7 percent in 2018 to 1.3 million vehicles, according to China’s top car industry body China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). It sees electric vehicle sales hitting 1.6 million this year.
China last month raised its standards for electric cars that qualify for subsidies and reduced the amount it is willing to provide to relevant companies.
Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh in Beijing; editing by Richard Pullin