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  • Writer's pictureTom Clinton | Aificial Editor Chief

Chinese company poised to overtake Tesla as biggest EV maker on path to global leadership

Chinese electric car company BYD may overtake Tesla as the world’s biggest electric vehicle maker after it surpassed Tesla’s fourth-quarter production. 

Tesla produced around 484,000 units in the final quarter of 2023 – an increase of 19.5% from the same period last year – but BYD sold more than 526,000 vehicles in the same quarter. The sales account for pure EV units. When accounting for plug-in hybrids, BYD has already surpassed Tesla, Axios reported. 

Tesla announced sales of 1.84 million pure EV cars, while BYD has sold 1.6 million pure EV and 1.4 million hybrid EV cars. 

China wants to have its two biggest EV makers to generate 10% of their sales overseas by 2025 but has not indicated which companies that would include – though, analysts believe BYD must be one of those two due to production and sales volume, The South China Morning Post reported. 

BYD also benefits from backing from Berkshire Hathaway which, as of October 2023, owns 7.98% of the manufacturer even after selling off significant amounts of its initial holding. The industry-leading investment firm owned 10.9% of the company in May 2023, even after selling off some of its holding. 

Some of BYD’s success came as a result of aggressive discounting programs in Europe to help boost its presence in key foreign markets. BYD dropped the price by about 8% on its Han-branded sedans, with a much smaller discount on its Dynasty series of pure and hybrid models. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen argued that the price for vehicles remained "artificially low" thanks to state subsidies. 

Europe is the prime target for rising Chinese manufacturers. BYD plans to build a new factory in Hungary and launch sales for three more models on the continent, with plans to sell 800,000 annually in Europe alone by 2030, The Guardian reported. 

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen attends the weekly meeting of the EU Commission in Berlaymont on Nov. 30, 2022 in Brus

Tesla also suffered a few significant setbacks, including a recall of just over 2 million vehicles in the U.S. fitted with autopilot driver assistance to install new safeguards. 

The still-biggest EV automaker will not have to worry about facing competition in the U.S. from Chinese rivals as tariffs and trade restrictions remain in place, which may also contribute to the intense focus on European markets. 

Despite its successes, BYD shares fell almost 24% in 2023, with an accelerated decline in price since mid-November due to competitive pressures, price cuts, and concerns about the company’s ability to meet sales targets, Automotive News Europe reported. 


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