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The Top 5 Chinese Automotive OEMs to Know in 2024

The Top 5 Chinese Automotive OEMs to Know in 2024
We selected the top 5 Chinese automotive OEMs to know in 2024, based on sales volume and market capitalization. (iStock)

China became both the world’s largest car market and producer in 2008. However few people, especially those living in developed countries, would be able to name any Chinese producers despite China exporting more cars than any other country last year. Perhaps that is down to the sheer number of companies involved in the Chinese market and the myriad of brands. We selected the top 5 companies to know, based on sales volume and market capitalization.

Klaus Paur, Managing Partner MaLogic characterizes the Chinese market as not only the most competitive but also likely the most diverse:

 “Defining the top companies in the Chinese automotive market depends on the underlying perspective. Current sales numbers alone don’t tell us the whole story”. 

The Chinese market is continually evolving and the last few years have seen a huge transition to what China calls new energy vehicles (NEV) an umbrella term for fully electric and plug-in hybrids.  Current data indicated they made up over 35% of sales in 2023. 

This Tu Le, Founder and Managing Director of Beijing-based Sino Auto Insights, believes to be an important step:

“China’s moved from subsidy-driven to market-driven, the only country in the world that can say that about EV adoption.

In such a fast-moving market, choosing the top 5 companies is very difficult but these based on sales volume and market capitalization are the current companies to know.


1/ BYD

Despite seemingly exploding onto the world scene overnight BYD has its origins as a battery producer founded in 1995 before beginning to produce cars in 2005. Since 2022 the company has dedicated itself to NEVs and sells cars under four brands: the mass-market BYD brand and three more upmarket brands Denza, Leopard (Fangchengbao), and Yangwang. BYD is currently the world’s fourth-largest car brand.

Le believes BYD finally found themselves in the right place at the right time:

“What’s helped BYD push themselves to the forefront of clean energy vehicles is the massive and abrupt move to clean energy vehicles in China over the last 3-4 years as well as their consistent improvement in product design and engineering quality.”

Two things set BYD apart from other producers. Firstly they are perhaps the most vertically integrated car producer anywhere in the world. The second is that not only do they develop and produce their own batteries for their cars but they supply batteries to other producers as well through BYD subsidiary FinDreams. The company’s Blade battery has enabled class-leading energy density from cheaper and supposedly safer lithium iron phosphate batteries. 

According to David Zhang, a visiting professor at Huanghe Science and Technology University (Henan Province, batteries give BYD a distinct advantage:

 “Having its own battery manufacturing capabilities means BYD can not only reduce car manufacturing costs but also ensure the safety of its supply chain.”

2/ Geely 

For a long time best known as the owner of Volvo, last year Geely sold 2.79 million cars. Over recent years the brand portfolio has expanded significantly and now includes many EV-dedicated marques such as Polestar, Smart, Zeekr, and Radar. The company is also behind brands such as Lynk & Co, the London taxi-producing LEVC, and has the controlling share of Proton and Lotus. 

In many ways, it is the most international of all Chinese brands. According to Le:

“Geely has to be international due to the nature of its brand portfolio and the best part of Geely is that they allowed Volvo to self-manage which is now bearing fruit, with the recent years being Volvo’s most successful.”

In many ways, it is the most international of all Chinese brands. (Credit: Geely)

3/ SAIC Motor

For eighteen consecutive years, SAIC has sold more vehicles than any other automaker in China with sales of 5.02 million in 2023. For many years the volume was largely due to its joint ventures with Volkswagen and General Motors but over the last few years sales of the company’s own brands have rapidly expanded. SAIC’s own brands include MG, Roewe, IM and Maxus (LDV), and last year they made up 55% of the total with sales of 2.775 million. Furthermore, SAIC has been China’s largest car exporter for eight years, last year selling 1.208 million overseas.

Much of that success has been due to SAIC’s purchase of the formerly British MG car brand with Zhang saying:

“SAIC has become China’s largest automobile export company mainly relying on MG models. SAIC’s acquisition of MG is a huge success, as it can quickly gain access to many international markets.”

4/ Changan

The core Changan brand has for many years been one of China’s best-selling. However, it has hardly registered with many people due to many of the sales being either in the provinces around its Chongqing base or due to many of the sales being minivans. Its joint ventures with Ford, Mazda, and formerly Suzuki have never been as successful as some other JVs. 

Together with the main Changan brand, there is the Oshan brand for SUVs and MPVs. Over recent years a trio of new energy brands have emerged: Changan Nevo, Deepal, and Avatr covering everything from entry-level to premium ends of the market. 

According to Le, the company is likely to gain in profile:

“We are starting to see an evolution of their brand building as they have also begun to push into EVs. They’ve quickly set up partnerships with Huawei, NIO, and CATL which has shined a spotlight on their EV brands with a few of them gaining traction in the ultra-competitive NEV market.”


While not an auto producer, CATL plays an incredibly important role in the Chinese car market thanks to it supplying around half of all battery packs used by NEVs. CATL has also been forging partnerships with producers that go far beyond a supplier relationship to shared ownership of some brands such as in the case of Avatr, where CATL has a 24% share. 

CATL is already supplying producers outside China and has a factory in Germany with others under construction in Hungary and Indonesia. 

The company not only dominates the EV battery supply business with a 37.4% global share in the first 11 months of 2023 but also intends to keep that dominance through innovation. Paur concludes:

“It owes its success to the reliable supply of high-quality batteries, a critical requirement for all vehicle manufacturers. Through its vertically integrated production process, it benefits from a supply chain advantage, and with its focus on R&D it is a leader in technology innovation.”