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BYD Surpasses Tesla In EV Sales for 2023 But Who is BYD?

BYD overtakes Tesla en EV Sales Globally

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Finally, BYD surpasses Tesla in EV sales for 2023. That’s the big news in the EV world that exploded (As well as a Tesla or two) last week as EV giants Tesla (TSLA) and BYD (BYDDF), recognized as global leaders in the electric vehicle (EV) market, announced their 2023 global sales. 

In 2023, their market presence, especially in China, has become more pronounced, transforming into a direct competitive scenario. While Tesla has been a forerunner in the EV space for years, BYD’s rapid growth and expanding global footprint are reshaping the market dynamics.

BYD Surpasses Tesla in EV Cars Sales Globally

So far, the two big players, Tesla and BYD, are leading the way with their unique strengths and strategies. Tesla is known for always coming up with new ideas and expanding globally, while BYD is growing fast and making its mark in the EV world.

Consequently, Tesla has grown from an EV startup into one of the world’s leading EV makers and the most valuable automaker by market capitalization.
In the meantime, BYD has evolved from making uninspiring cars to being the leader of China’s NEV (New Energy Vehicle) market and a company that is rapidly expanding worldwide.
BYD sells more electrified cars than Tesla, though it has to be said that its sales statistics cumulate plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicles (BEV).
In 2022, BYD sold more than 1.85 million plug-in electric cars globally, 946,238 of which were BEVs. That’s not that far behind Tesla, which delivered 1.3 million BEVs worldwide last year.
As a result, BYD continued it’s pace and intensity in its sales in 2023 and finally surpassed Tesla’s sales in Q4 sales reaching 942,779, and a total of 3,012,906 vehicles for the year.
BYD Surpasses Tesla in BEV sales

Tesla and BYD: How BYD Beat Tesla in EV Sales

Tesla’s Performance in 2023:

  • In the fourth quarter of 2023, Tesla delivered 484,507 EVs, surpassing analyst expectations and achieving a yearly total of 1.81 million deliveries.
  • Despite a strong performance in stock, Tesla faced challenges in maintaining growth with profit margins and quality issues aligning with traditional automakers.
  • Tesla’s global price adjustments and strategic discounts have been crucial in responding to market fluctuations and maintaining its competitive edge.

BYD’s Impressive Growth:

  • BYD reported record sales in December 2023, with the fourth quarter sales reaching 942,779, and a total of 3,012,906 vehicles for the year.
  • Notably, BYD outsold Tesla in all-electric BEVs for the first time in Q4 2023.
  • The company announced its expansion into European markets with plans for a new passenger EV plant, signaling its intent to capture a larger share of the global market.

Market Strategies and Overseas Expansion:

  • Tesla has been proactive in adjusting its pricing strategies, leveraging tax credits, and exploring new market territories.
  • BYD’s overseas sales hit a record high, marking an 18% increase from November and a 219% surge compared to the previous year.
  • Both companies are heavily investing in overseas markets, with Tesla entering Thailand and BYD announcing new factories in Thailand, Brazil, and Hungary.

Who's BYD and What Do They Do?

In the fast-paced world of electric vehicle (EV) makers, one remarkable Chinese car company has not only proven doubters wrong but has also outshone the giant in the industry, Tesla.

Additionally, BYD, known initially for making phone batteries, has now become a leading player in the EV market.

BYD’s Unusual Start was founded in 1995 by chemist Wang Chuanfu in Shenzhen, BYD began its journey with a small team of 20 people and a capital of 2.5 million Chinese yuan.

Starting with lithium-ion batteries, BYD became a supplier for big tech companies like Motorola and Nokia, taking advantage of the increasing use of mobile phones at that time.

A significant moment came in 2002 when BYD went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, leveraging its success in the growing lithium-ion battery market.

Who is BYD?

The Blade Battery

Changing the Game BYD’s success in the EV space can be credited to the introduction of the Blade battery in 2020.

BYD Blade Battery


This lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery stood out by offering better energy density and safety, going against the trend of other companies moving away from LFP batteries.

BYD strategically used the Blade in its Han sedan, positioning it as a direct competitor to Tesla’s Model S. This move set the stage for BYD’s subsequent success, with 130,970 pure battery electric vehicles sold in 2020 and a staggering 1.57 million in the following year.

Moving into Cars

Next, BYD entered the automotive industry in 2003 with the acquisition of Xi’an Qinchuan Automobile.

The company’s first combustion model, the F3, hit the market in 2005. But the real turning point was in 2008 with the launch of the F3DM, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, marking BYD’s first step into the electric vehicle world.

2005 BYD F3

Notably, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway invested $230 million in BYD that same year, giving a significant boost to its electric car ambitions.

Smart Investments and Diversification

Most importantly, BYD’s strength and innovation extend beyond electric vehicles. Starting as a high-tech supplier, providing batteries to tech giants like Apple, BYD showed foresight by acquiring a local Chinese automotive brand in 2005.

This move allowed BYD to continuously innovate in battery technology and sell batteries to other automakers.

The company’s commitment to improving the design, engineering, and quality of its vehicles over the past two decades positioned it to surpass Tesla in Q4 of 2023.

Warren Buffet invests in BYD

Conquering the Market

Hybrid Strategy and Branding In the early days of the Chinese EV market, BYD adopted a dual strategy, launching both Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV).

This strategy was crucial, especially in a market where charging infrastructure was still developing, and consumers were not fully aware of the benefits of EVs.

BYD’s success in the mid-range market, along with effective branding through sub-brands like Denza, contributed to its rapid growth.

BYD Denza Model N7

Government Support and Global Expansion

BYD’s rise to global prominence was significantly aided by unwavering support from the Chinese government.

Subsidies and state support, starting around 2009, played a crucial role in facilitating BYD’s ambitious push into the EV sector.

Estimates suggest that BYD received approximately $4.3 billion in state support between 2015 and 2020.

The company’s aggressive overseas expansion, with a 43% market share in electric vehicles in Southeast Asia, shows its commitment to becoming a global powerhouse.

Electric car use by Country - Wikipedia

Who's Laughing Now? Tesla's Elon Musk Thought BYD is a Joke in 2011

In a 2011 Bloomberg interview, Musk burst into laughter when BYD was suggested as a potential rival for Tesla in the electric vehicle sector. “Have you seen their car?” Musk responded, expressing that he didn’t consider BYD a competitor at all.

More than a decade later, Musk’s perspective on BYD has undergone a transformation. In response to a snippet of the 2011 interview shared on Twitter, Musk clarified that a lot has changed since then, and BYD cars are now remarkably impressive.

“That was many years ago. Their cars are highly competitive these days,” Musk conveyed. In fairness, numerous developments have occurred since 2011. Tesla has evolved from an EV startup into the world’s foremost EV manufacturer and the most valuable automaker by market capitalization.

BYD Surpasses Tesla in EV Sales FAQs

BYD achieved a significant milestone by surpassing Tesla in all-electric Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) sales in the fourth quarter of 2023. This accomplishment marked a pivotal moment in the electric vehicle industry, showcasing BYD’s growth and competitive strength.

In 2023, BYD outperformed Tesla in total electric vehicle sales, reporting record-breaking numbers. BYD’s total sales for the year, including plug-in hybrids, reached 3,012,906 vehicles, exceeding its target of three million. This achievement positioned BYD as a formidable player in the global EV market.

Several key factors contributed to BYD’s success in surpassing Tesla in EV sales. Notably, BYD demonstrated higher gross margins, closed the gap in net income and revenue, and strategically offered sizable discounts to boost sales. Additionally, the company’s overseas expansion and plans for a new passenger EV plant in Europe played crucial roles in its remarkable sales performance.

During the intensifying China EV price war, BYD strategically announced larger discounts, adapting to market dynamics. This approach, combined with the company’s focus on overseas sales and plans for a passenger EV plant in Europe, showcased BYD’s agility and resilience in navigating competitive challenges. In contrast, Tesla adjusted prices globally and faced increased competition, impacting its profit margins.

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