Tesla led in 2023 global EV sales, but BYD outsold it in Q4

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Tesla and Chinese automaker BYD were the two global contenders for most EV sales in 2023. Tesla ultimately sold more EVs over the entire year, but BYD pulled ahead of the U.S. automaker in the fourth quarter.

On Tuesday, Tesla said it delivered 1.8 million vehicles in 2023, including a record 484,507 in Q4, which represents October through December. Q4 deliveries were 20% higher than the same period in 2022, but annual deliveries still fell a bit short of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s prediction of two million units, made last January.

Tesla Model 3 (Europe-market refresh)

Unlike Tesla, BYD isn’t EV-exclusive. But it’s regularly among the top EV producers, and reported this week that it delivered 1.5 million in 2023, along with 1.4 million plug-in hybrids. And it reported 526,409 EV deliveries in Q4—also a record a for the company. That was helped by an approximately 70% jump in sales in December.

Tesla has used price cuts to help jolt sales, but BYD has its own battery business, giving it greater control over prices. Its new Blade battery, focused on safety and longevity, has earned a good reputation already.

BYD Han EV

BYD Han EV

BYD has an additional advantage in that its batteries are being used by some of its rivals in China. Mercedes-Benz was reportedly considering it in recent months.

The Chinese automaker appears to have shelved plans to sell passenger cars in the U.S., but its Model 3-rivalling Seal just arrived in Mexico. Meanwhile, Tesla is losing the U.S. $7,500 EV tax credit on some of its models, potentially affecting sales in this market. Could that make the difference and allow BYD to win the annual EV sales race in 2024?

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