Tesla loses spot as world’s top electric car seller

Warren Buffett-backed BYD saw EV sales shoot up 300 per cent in 2022, a decade after Elon Musk said he did not see them as a competitor

Anthony Cuthbertson
Wednesday 06 July 2022 15:59 BST
<p>The BYD E-SEED GT electric concept car at the Shanghai Auto Show in Shanghai on 17 April, 2019</p>

The BYD E-SEED GT electric concept car at the Shanghai Auto Show in Shanghai on 17 April, 2019

Tesla is no longer the world’s most popular electric car company after China’s BYD topped the list of global sales.

The Shenzen-based automaker, which is backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment group, sold 641,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the first half of 2022.

In the same period, Tesla sold 564,000 electric cars after struggling with supply chain and production issues in China related to Covid restrictions.

BYD’s sales represented a 300 per cent increase from the first six months of 2021, coinciding with China’s own rise as a leading electric vehicle producer.

The Asian country exported more than half a million EVs in 2021 – twice as many as 2020. The figure increasingly consists of Chinese brands or Chinese-owned European brands like Volvo and MG Motor.

BYD’s ascendency has seen its share price rise more than 24 per cent since the start of the year, and more than 500 per cent over the last five years.

Company filings published this week also revealed that production of fossil fuel-powered vehicles fell to zero in June 2022, down from more than 17,000 in the same month last year.

The firm also overtook South Korea’s LG to become the world’s second-largest producer of EV batteries, behind only Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL).

Tesla boss Elon Musk previously dismissed BYD’s electric vehicle ambitions, laughing in an interview with Bloomberg in 2011 and saying that he did not see them as a competitor.

“Have you seen their car?” he said. “I don’t think they have a great product. I don’t think it’s particularly attractive, the technology is not very strong... I think their focus is, and rightly should be, on making sure they don’t die in China.”

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