BYD Surpasses Tesla in 2023 Sales, Nearing World EV Market Leader Status

China's BYD achieved record-breaking sales in 2023, positioning itself as a strong competitor to Tesla in the global electric vehicle market.


BYD's Record-Breaking Sales in 2023

China's BYD reported a significant increase in global sales in 2023, edging closer to surpassing Tesla as the world market leader for electric vehicles (EVs). Based on a stock exchange filing, the Chinese company saw a 62% surge in sales, reaching over three million units last year, compared to 2022 figures.

BYD sold 1.57 million battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in 2023, marking a 73% increase from the previous year. Additionally, the company sold 1.44 million hybrids, which was 52% higher than the previous year's sales. Meanwhile, Tesla is expected to announce its full-year sales figures soon, with analysts predicting that it has met its target of delivering 1.8 million BEVs.

Closing the Gap with Tesla

In 2022, BYD trailed Tesla by around 400,000 units in global BEV sales. However, it is expected that the gap has significantly narrowed in 2023, and BYD may have even overtaken Tesla in the most recent quarter. In the fourth quarter alone, BYD sold 526,409 BEVs, a 20% increase from the previous quarter. For comparison, Tesla's deliveries in the same quarter were estimated to be around 473,000 units by analysts.

The rapid growth of BYD, which has the backing of Warren Buffett, is emblematic of China's surging EV industry. The country's strong government support for the sector has propelled its quick transition to electric vehicles.

China's Dominance in the Global EV Industry

China's leading role in the global EV industry can be attributed to its market scale, cost-effective labor, and dominance in the supply chain, according to analysts. The nation has become the production leader and has gained a competitive edge by leveraging its massive domestic market and first-mover advantage.

Chinese EV manufacturers have been able to expand both domestically and internationally, thanks to infrastructure investments and subsidies provided by the government. However, as competition intensifies and a price war ensued last year, the profitability of many car makers, including BYD, has been affected.


Challenges in the Chinese EV Market

The price war and the economic slowdown in China have raised concerns among automakers about a demand slowdown. In response, Tesla initiated price cuts to maintain growth in the Chinese market, triggering a price war among other auto manufacturers. While this strategy boosted sales, it also threatened industry-wide profitability.

As per the Chinese Passenger Car Association, the profit margin of China's car industry for the first 11 months of 2023 stood at just 5%, lower than the margins in 2022 and 2021. To counterbalance the domestic market's sluggishness, Chinese car makers have been expanding their operations in Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. BYD recently announced plans to build its first passenger car factory in Europe, specifically in Hungary.