Elon Musk Once Trashed BYD; The Chinese EV Maker Now Beats Tesla in Sales

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A decade after Elon Musk rubbished China's BYD as a maker of low quality electric vehicles, the Chinese company has beaten Tesla as the biggest electric car maker in the world by sales.

According to the latest data, BYD sold as many as 641,000 'new energy vehicles' in the first six months of this year, compared with Tesla's sales figure of 565,000 electric vehicles in the same period.

BYD electric car
BYD electric car Wikimedia Commons

BYD's 315% Growth

In China, the New Energy Vehicles category includes plug-in hybrid vehicle, which also have an internal combustion engine, and purely battery operated vehicles. While BYD sells both plug-in hybrids and pure-electric vehicles, Tesla sells only battery-operated vehicles.

However, BYD's 315 percent growth in year-on-year sales in the NEV category is a clear sign of the shape of things to come. While Musk's Tesla still leads the battery-only segment, that lead is consistently being trimmed by BYD, which is backed by legendary US investor Warren Buffett.

New Energy Vehicles Segment on Runaway Growth in China

The sales break-up shows that BYD sold 314,638 plug-in hybrids in the first half of the year, which is a whopping 454 percent rise year-on-year. It also sold 323,519 battery electric vehicles in the same period, a rise of 246 percent from the same period the previous year.

China new energy vehicles
China new energy vehicles CNEV Post, China

In comparison, Tesla's worldwide sales of electric vehicles stood at 564,753 in the first half of 2022, which is an increase of 46 percent over the previous year.

According to Fortune, Musk had dismissed BYD as a low-level competitor to Tesla years ago. "Have you seen their car .... I don't think they have a great product," Musk had said in a Bloomberg interview some ten years ago, according to the outlet.

What's Behind BYD's Rise?

One of the key reasons behind the rise of BYD is the support of the Chinese government. The company directly benefits from Beijing's policy of incentivizing buyers of electric vehicles to reduce the country's carbon footprint. BYD is now the largest selling Chinese carmaker.

Now, according to Fortune, there is speculation that BYD, which is the largest manufacturer of Lithium Iron-Phosphate (LFP) batteries, is in talks with Tesla to sell batteries to the US giant.

BYD, which has been around for more than two decades, said in April 2022 that it was stopping production of full internal combustion engine vehicles. This would let the company concentrate on pure electric as well as plug-in hybrid vehicles.

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