Chinese manufacturer BYD overtakes Tesla globally for the first time

With more than 500,000 electric cars delivered worldwide in the last quarter of 2023, the Chinese group BYD becomes number 1 in the sector. It doubled its American competitor Tesla over this period.


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A BYD electric vehicle on display at the Chinese automaker's stand during a preview of the Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo on October 25, 2023. (MAXPPP)

In the race for first place in the electric automobile sector, the Chinese manufacturer BYD (“Build Your Dreams”), based in Shenzhen, in the south of China, has just dethroned Telsa. It’s a great end to the year for BYD since in the fourth quarter of 2023, it delivered a record number of 526,409 electric cars to its customers worldwide.

This spectacular figure, up 22% compared to the previous quarter, was announced on Monday January 1 and was expected to be compared to that of its major American competitor Tesla. It was revealed on Tuesday January 2: Tesla produced 484,507 vehicles in the last quarter. Sure, that’s a little better than analysts expected, but it’s almost 40,000 units fewer than BYD. The Chinese manufacturer, which stopped producing cars with combustion engines in 2022 to focus on hybrid and electric models, therefore becomes the new world number 1 in electric cars by the end of 2023.

A performance achieved thanks to a wider range, which includes cheaper models, in particular due to various forms of government subsidies. “BYD has a structural advantage in that much of its expansion benefits from very strong Chinese government support for electric vehicles”, explains Neil Saunders, director of GlobalData, to AFP. He emphasizes that this support boosts the local market “which, in turn, strengthens BYD’s position in the export market”.

Despite everything, for the whole of 2023, it is Tesla which retains first place. The American group delivered 1.81 million electric vehicles worldwide (+38% over one year). For its part, BYD produced 1.57 million vehicles (+73% year-on-year). According to Neil Saunders, Tesla “remains a major player in the electric vehicle market”, but the group “will face a lot more competition from China” in 2024.

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