Elon Musk of Tesla (left) and Wang Chuanfu of BYD
Elon Musk of Tesla (left), and Wang Chuanfu of BYD. They are considered two of the top disruptors of our time. Image Credit: Reuters | File


  • Wang Chuanfu, a farmer's son, was orphaned early and raised by his elder siblings.
  • They lived a tough life in China’s Anhui province.
  • After completing his degree is Chemistry, Wang founded BYD (Build Your Dreams) Company in 1995
  • He is known today as the father of the "blade battery".
  • As of March 2023, Wang Chuanfu had a net worth of $19.9 billion, according to Forbes.

Wang Chuanfu is the 8th child of a peasant’s family. Orphaned early, Wang was raised by his brother and sister. They had a pretty tough life.

Through sheer hard work, he managed to finish university with a degree in Chemistry, and initially worked as a researcher.

In 1995, he founded the Chinese phone battery company BYD (Build Your Dreams), before going into electric vehicle manufacturing.

How Wang fought his way against great odds in his early life, and then became a phenomenal force in China’s push for electrification is a story of pure grit. He is often compared to Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla.

WANG CHUANFU, 56 | Company: BYD
Wang Chuanfu recently disclosed to the entire world how they make electric cars — lots of them — and sell them at a profit.


Hard work

As a chemist, Wang started his career by working hard for many years as a Chinese government researcher. In February 1995, Wang founded his company named as BYD Co. with his cousin Lv Xiangyang.

A BYD Seal electric vehicle (EV)
A BYD Seal electric vehicle (EV) is displayed at a car dealership in Shanghai, China, February 3, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Today, Wang is the CEO and chairman of BYD, a “new energy” conglomerate based in China, with two major subsidiaries: BYD Automobile and BYD Electronics.

Recently, the CEO of BYD disclosed to the entire world how they make electric cars, lots of them, and sell them at a profit. In the beginning, the company entered in the Chinese market as a rechargeable-battery factory, supplying batteries to the likes of Nokia.

Wang’s brilliance as an inventor and business strategist paid off handsomely, as the company started to grow.

In 2005, 10 years after his company was founded, BYD captured more than half of the world’s mobile-phone battery market. It thus became the largest Chinese manufacturer of all types of rechargeable batteries — mostly lithium ion.

The story has been told that Charlie Munger, a billionaire investment guru, described Wang to Warrent Buffett as a  "modern-day version of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates put together". Buffett invested $232 million in BYD in 2008 — a stake that has since grown to around $6 billion in 2021.

BYD timeline
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal | Jay Hilotin | Gulf News

From battery to carmaker

Despite his early successes, Wang never rested on his laurels. In 2002, BYD company acquired the Tsinchuan Automobile Co Ltd, thus allowing BYD to enter the auto business, as BYD Automobile Company Ltd.

BYD's automobile arm also became a hit. Today, it is one of the world’s largest EV makers manufacturers, and perhaps the only EV maker making money, other than Tesla.

Battery chemist

His understanding of battery chemistry allows him to continue innovating. Given his strong background in research, and knowing what it takes to bring a product from lab to market, Wang pushes a culture of innovation.

BYD is credited for developing the so-called “blade batteries” for EVs — the company has racked up more than 12,000 domestic patents and more than 8,000 international patents.

Blade batteries are a type of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery for electric vehicles that FinDreams Battery, a division of Chinese manufacturing firm BYD, invented and produced.

Their innovations cover the whole gamut of environmentally-friendly, fire-safe lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery chemistries and advance electric vehicle drive and energy recovery systems.

Elon Musk vs Wang Chuanfu
Image Credit: Jay Hilotin | Gulf News | Tesla | BYD | Reuters | File

Forbes reported that BYD has just overtaken Tesla us largest electric car company in the world. While Tesla is pure EV maker, BYD also sells hybrid plug-ins, which to some industry observers don’t count.

But if you count to plug-in hybrids, then it is true that BYD are now selling well quite a lot more than Tesla.

Fast growth: ‘Electrification irreversible’

Wang’s strategy has led to BYD’s dominant position within China. Back in 2016, BYD sold 96,000 EVs in its home market. He then declared declared: “The trend of electrification is irreversible.”

“We have reached the point where (economies of scale) in production will allow for more affordable prices,” Wang added.

The mainland has about 450 registered EV manufacturer companies, which together sold about 3 million in cars in 2021 alone.

Compared to competitors, BYD has been growing fast.

In December 2022, BYD scored a record month with 228,500 to registrations, up 145 per cent year on year — beating Tesla, which ended with 173,615 registrations, about 4,000 units above the result of December 2021.

In February, BYD outsold Volkswagen-branded cars in China for the second time. Over the past year (2022) BYD sold roughly 940,000 battery electric vehicles (BEVs), of which 911,140 were sold in China.

In February, BYD outsold Volkswagen-branded cars in China for the second time. Reuters reported that in the first two months of 2023 BYD outsold Tesla by more than five times in China.

Over the past year (2022) BYD sold roughly 940,000 battery electric vehicles (BEVs), of which 911,140 were sold in China. That’s equivalent to a market share of about 20 per cent of all battery electric vehicle sold. In comparison, Tesla sold about 440,000 vehicles in China capturing roughly 10 per cent of the market.

Reuters reported that in the first two months of 2023 BYD outsold Tesla by more than five times in China.

Mastery of tech, vertical integration

Today, behind BYD’s position is a portfolio of innovative technology. The company BYD has mastered the core technologies of the whole industrial supply chain of new energy vehicles or electric vehicles such as batteries motors and electronic controls.

BYD, like Tesla, makes its own semiconductor chips. It essentially is the most vertically integrated company in the world.

Winning the EV race

Chuanfu has given away the secret on why BYD had been able to become one of the only two manufacturers in the world — themselves and Tesla being the other one — actually able to make EVs and sell them at a profit.

Their patent portfolio includes a wide range of innovations in electric vehicle technology, battery chemistry and design, energy storage, and renewable energy.

Analysts point to the aggressive discounts for creating some demand as other automakers have followed Tesla into what has turned into a price war over market share.

Another factor is that local Chinese authorities have also been rolling out at the subsidies for buyers in order to drive demand and some of these programs have started to extend to automakers. In the last 12 months, BYD increased vehicle sales by 400 per cent, with half of those being electric cars.

It’s well ahead of every other auto maker in the world not called Tesla — and this was in spite of the fact that pretty much all of its manufacturing happens in China.

On April 1, 2023, BYD started selling its EVs in Mexico. Some celebrity analysts, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet among them, believe that BYD would be one of biggest car makers in the world by 2030.

BYD's innovations in electric vehicles, battery technology, solar power, energy storage, and transportation have made them a major player in the sustainable energy industry.


Here are some of BYD’s key innovations:

Electric vehicles: BYD is a leader in the development of electric vehicles, and was the first company in China to produce electric buses on a large scale. They also produce electric cars, trucks, and forklifts. BYD's electric vehicles use their proprietary "Fe" battery technology, which they claim provides superior performance and longer lifespan than traditional lithium-ion batteries.

Battery technology: BYD is also a major player in the battery industry, producing rechargeable batteries for a wide range of applications, including electric vehicles, consumer electronics, and energy storage systems. They have developed several different types of batteries, including lithium-ion, iron-phosphate, and sodium-ion.

Solar power: BYD has been expanding into the solar power industry, producing solar panels and energy storage systems. Their solar panels use innovative "double-glass" technology, which they claim increases their durability and efficiency.

Energy storage: BYD produces a range of energy storage systems, including residential and commercial systems that use their proprietary battery technology. They also produce large-scale energy storage systems for utilities and renewable energy projects.

Monorail transportation: BYD has developed a monorail transportation system, which they claim is more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional rail systems. The monorail system uses BYD's electric vehicles and battery technology, and has been deployed in several cities in China.

BYD's innovations in electric vehicles, battery technology, solar power, energy storage, and transportation have made them a major disruptor of our time.

BIO: Wang Chuanfu
Birthday: April 8, 1966
Birthplace: Wuwei County, Anhui, China.
Education: Bachelor o Science in Chemistry, Central South University
Master of Science: Beijing Non-Ferrous Research Institute
Role: Founder and CEO of BYD (Build Your Dreams, founded in 1995).
Subsidiaries: BYD Automobile and BYD Electronics
Net worth: $19.9 billion (March 2023, as per Forbes)