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BEIJING: Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD has set a 3.6- million-unit sales target for 2024, a jump of 20% from its record-breaking sales last year, according to three people who were familiar with the matter.

The world’s largest EV manufacturer aims to sell 500,000 vehicles overseas this year, more than double last year’s total, and one million units in 2025, Chairman Wang Chuanfu told a BYD investor meeting on Wednesday, the sources said. They declined to be named as the meeting was not open to the media.

BYD did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Wang’s remarks came after BYD posted its slowest quarterly profit growth in two years on Tuesday, as EV sales lost momentum in the world’s biggest auto market.

The company’s Hong Kong shares sank 6.1% by the close on Wednesday, against a 1.4% fall in the broader Hang Seng index.

BYD stepped into the global spotlight after it became the world’s biggest EV seller late last year, overtaking Tesla . It also embarked on aggressive expansion into overseas markets such as Australia, worrying rivals who have seen how it has grabbed market share in China.

It has also become a relentless discounter in a price war against Tesla that began in China last year.

Wang told investors that the new energy vehicle industry had entered a “knockout round” with a battle in scale, cost and technology over 2024-2026, the sources said.

Over the next three to five years, the market share of foreign brands in China will fall from 40% to 10%, he estimated. Wang also forecast that BYD’s vehicle margin would fall this year as the price war intensifies, but said the company would ensure its profitability remains stable by improving sales.

The company said it will launch its next-generation plug-in hybrid system in May.

Fifth-generation DMI technology, for BYD plug-in hybrid vehicles, would enable fuel consumption of 2.9 litres per 100 km and combined ranges of up to 2,000 kilometres, Wang said.

That compares to the DMI 4.0 that BYD launched in 2021 which can power Qin Plus hybrids to reach speeds of 100 kmh from zero in 7.9 seconds, touted fuel consumption of 3.8 litre of gasoline per 100 kilometres and had a combined ranges of above 1,200 km.

The company has since February been rolling out new versions of its line-up at prices 5-20% lower than earlier iterations.

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