Kyle Grillot—Bloomberg/Getty Images

BYD is not yet a household name outside of Asia, but it soon will be. The company is on track to become the global EV sales leader, pulling ahead of Tesla for the first time. Stella Li, CEO of BYD Americas, has led this significant expansion outside of China, largely in South America. A major $620 million investment will fund the construction of three factories—to produce electric buses and trucks; build passenger cars; and process lithium and iron phosphate for batteries—in Bahia, Brazil. BYD has also made recent moves in Argentina, Colombia, and Chile.

What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?

Our plan for comprehensive electrification in the automotive industry recommends a phased approach: introducing new energy vehicles to public transportation, followed by specialized vehicles, and eventually transitioning to private cars. This has been BYD’s own proven strategy in promoting new energy vehicles over the past decades. The rapid transition to electrification also requires establishing a robust charging infrastructure and endorsing supportive policies. By putting these measures [in place], we are actively aiding a significant reduction in carbon emissions and furthering the transformation of energy structures.

What is a climate technology that isn’t getting the attention or funding it deserves?

I believe it’s crucial for the world to continue promoting the massification of electromobility, which allows us to have efficient and non-polluting transportation, improving people’s quality of life. Another significant aspect is the potential of energy storage technologies. These systems allow us to store surplus energy from renewable resources, such as wind or solar, for use when needed.

What’s the most important climate legislation that could pass in the next year?

The evolving legislative landscape has reinforced environment-friendly practices in our everyday lives. Proudly being the first automaker in the world to announce the cessation of production of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, BYD believes that laws encouraging more companies to shift to zero-emission vehicles are crucial. Overall, we consider the most effective climate policies to be those that incentivize a shift to cleaner energy, encourage technological innovation, and facilitate the transition of infrastructure. These solutions must also be accessible and affordable for all. We believe these factors will bring about a real and lasting change in how we treat our planet.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at

Fatih Birol
Vincent Clerc
William Ruto
Stella McCartney
Nemonte Nenquimo
5 stories