(Bloomberg) -- BYD Co. unveiled a new vehicle range called Fang Cheng Bao, expanding its lineup in the higher end of the market.
Fang Cheng Bao, which translates literally as Formula Leopard, is the second premium brand introduced by the Warren Buffett-backed Chinese company this year as it takes an increasingly dominant place in the global EV market. BYD is the biggest-selling car brand in China after recently dethroning Volkswagen AG, and it is rapidly catching up with Tesla Inc. The Shenzhen-based company delivered 264,647 electric vehicles in the first quarter versus Tesla’s 422,875. Including plug-in hybrids, BYD sold 547,917 cars in the period.
The first Fang Cheng Bao model is the SF sport-utility vehicle. BYD hasn’t disclosed the price or said whether it will be an all battery EV range or also include plug-in hybrids.
Read more: China’s BYD Is Taking On the World EV Market—Except in America
After grabbing market share with EVs sold for as little as $10,400, BYD is expanding upmarket — the company also launched the luxury Yangwang SUV this year with a pre-sale price of 1.1 million yuan ($154,680). Both the Fang Cheng Bao series and Yangwang are in segments that can deliver better margins than BYD’s more affordable Dynasty and Ocean sedans and SUVs.
The new brand “targets a wealthier customer base that currently buys luxury imported brands that would have never considered a BYD a few years ago,” said Jack Shea, chief financial officer at Shenzhen-based hedge fund Snow Bull Capital Inc., which has invested in both BYD and Tesla. It will help “pad BYD’s top and bottom line once it starts deliveries,” he said.
BYD last week reported its best-ever monthly sales.
The Fang Cheng Bao launch came a day after China announced a fresh push to boost the auto industry. Nationwide vehicle sales rose about 29% in May from a year earlier to 1.74 million units, with new-energy vehicles accounting for a third of the total. China is the world’s biggest EV market.
BYD shares rose 1% as of 10 a.m. in Hong Kong, extending this year’s gain to 30%.
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