BYD is based in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, and recorded 2.4 million new domestic auto insurance registrations last year, records from the China Center for Automotive Technology and Research (CATR) show. It means that the BYD brand had an 11 percent share of the Chinese market, which was an increase of 3.2 percentage points from the previous year.

BYD’s rapid rise reflects the broader lead of Chinese auto brands in developing affordable and technically advanced electric vehicles that are rapidly gaining international recognition. Western firms such as Stellantis and Volkswagen are now turning to Chinese automakers to give their EV strategy a new boost.

Last year, BYD overtook Volkswagen as the best-selling car brand in China on a quarterly basis, but newly published data confirm that the Chinese carmaker also holds first place in the annual balance sheet. Volkswagen has been China’s best-selling car brand since at least 2008, when CATR began tracking the data.

As for other major car brands on the Chinese market, the Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda saw both their sales volume and market share fall last year. Chinese automaker Chongqing Changan Automobile benefited from increased sales, but its market share stagnated.

The change in ranking is a good sign for BYD and other Chinese manufacturers at the beginning of this year. Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles are expected to increase by 25 percent to around 11 million vehicles in China this year. Worldwide, the BYD car company sold more than three million cars last year, and is therefore on its way to becoming one of the top ten largest car companies in the world.

BYD sold more than 520,000 electric cars in the fourth quarter of last year, surpassing American rival Tesla for the first time. However, he still maintained his lead in the year-round comparison.