BYD Close To Passing Tesla As World’s Biggest EV Maker

byd electric vehicle

Fourth-quarter sales surge takes Chinese auto giant BYD closer to passing Tesla as world’s biggest maker of purely electric vehicles

Chinese car giant BYD said it sold some 1.6 million battery-only electric passenger cars in 2023, with a record 526,000 of those in the fourth quarter, taking it nearer to surpassing Tesla as the world’s biggest seller of purely electric vehicles.

The figures, released in an exchange filing on Monday, were boosted by a more than 70 percent sales surge in December, with 190,754 battery electric vehicles (EVs) sold in the month, boosted by heavy discounts.

Tesla is estimated to have sold about 483,000 vehicles in the quarter and 1.82 million for the full year, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The Texas-based company said it sold 1.35 million vehicles during the first three quarters of 2023 and is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter sales figures ahead of the market open on Tuesday.

The Yangwang U8 electric vehicle. Image credit: BYD
The Yangwang U8 electric vehicle. Image credit: BYD

Growing sales

BYD also makes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which along with battery-only cars are known in China as new-energy vehicles (NEVs).

When both pure electric and hybrid models are included, the Chinese firm’s sales surpassed those of Tesla in the first half of 2022.

BYD said it sold a total of 3.01 million NEVs for the full year 2023, including 340,178 in December.

At the end of the third quarter, Shenzhen-based BYD and Tesla had a roughly equivalent market share of 17 percent for the global market share for fully electric cars. BYD sold 432,000 and Tesla 435,000 EVs during the quarter.

BYD’s strongest sales are in China, where it has a market share of 35 percent across fully electric and plug-in hybrids.

byd sea lion
BYD’s Sea Lion 07. Image credit: BYD

Overseas expansion

The firm is also expanding overseas, particularly into Europe, and officially announced its first European plant in Hungary on 22 December.

It currently offers five models in Europe and plans to launch three more in the next 12 months.

BYD mostly sells vehicles at a lower price point than Tesla, although it also sells higher-end cars such as the “Sea Lion” SUV launched in November.

But Tesla also faces growing  competition from premium Chinese EV makers including Li Auto, Nio, Xpeng and Geely-backed Zeekr, with ventures from electronics makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi also planning to target the segment in the coming months.