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China's BYD outpaces Tesla, becoming top electric car seller

China's BYD outpaces Tesla, becoming top electric car seller China's BYD outpaces Tesla, becoming top electric car seller (Getty Images)

Tesla has lost its position as the world's leading electric vehicle manufacturer for the first time, with China's BYD, Build Your Dreams, surpassing Tesla in sales, according to the Financial Times.

Elon Musk's Tesla delivered 484,000 cars in the fourth quarter, falling short of Warren Buffett-backed BYD's record sales of 526,000 battery-only vehicles for the same period.

China's BYD outpaces Tesla, becoming top electric car seller

BYD surpasses Tesla in quarterly deliveries (Bloomberg/Financial Times)

According to The Guardian, BYD reported making 3.02 million new energy vehicles in 2023, meaning 1.6 million battery-only cars and 1.4 million hybrids. Tesla disclosed the production of 1.84 million cars. This indicates that while BYD has an overall higher production volume, Tesla remains the frontrunner in the production of electric battery-only cars.

The majority of BYD's vehicles are priced lower than Tesla's offerings, making them more appealing. The shift in leadership from Tesla to BYD highlights the emergence of the once lesser-known Chinese company, which Musk had previously dismissed. While BYD's growth has primarily arisen in its domestic market, the company is now concentrating on expanding into new foreign markets, particularly in Europe.

BYD company

Founded in the mid-1990s by former university professor Wang Chuanfu, BYD initially focused on manufacturing rechargeable batteries before expanding into the car industry in the early 2000s. Berkshire Hathaway invested in BYD in 2008, recognizing its early success and cost-effective production practices. BYD's vertically integrated structure, controlling mines, battery, and chip production, has positioned it as a formidable player in the global transition away from combustion engines.

Benefiting from state support and strategic planning by Beijing, Chinese automakers, including BYD, leverage control over the production of resources, materials, and components for electric vehicles. As of the end of last year, six out of the top-selling electric vehicle models in China were BYD cars, holding more than a 35% market share, while Tesla struggled to match the product launch pace, having about 20% of its sales from the Chinese market.

We recently reported that Tesla initiated a recall of over 2 million vehicles, nearly all cars sold in the United States, to address issues with its Autopilot systems. They were identified by U.S. safety regulators who found inadequate controls to prevent misuse.