It is the nature of attention-seeking journalism to turn any quantifiable comparison between two products, artists, companies, et cetera into a horse race. This is often lazy and reductive. In other news, today’s top story is: BYD’s production increases so far have just edged out Tesla’s through the first three quarters of the year.
I want to highlight the success of BYD and Tesla this morning not merely for the ongoing derby-ness between these, the two biggest makers of battery-powered cars, but for what it says about the global electric car market. Plus, I think it’s important to consider that the woes of traditional automakers in this changing environment don’t mean that there isn’t still significant EV demand.
Do you want two pieces of Tesla news in your Morning Dump? Probably not, but Tesla scored yet another court victory and it’s quite notable. Hey, speaking of traditional automakers, guess what group thinks they’ll have to pay about $10 billion in fines if fuel economy rules go forward as planned? And then let’s round it out with some good news about the Kia Carnival.
BYD EV Production Up 81% Year-Over-Year, Tesla Up 45%
Clear definitions are important when talking about electric cars. Is it electric or electrified? Is it a pure BEV, a PHEV, or just an HEV? Chinese automaker BYD is the largest maker of electrified vehicles in that it makes almost twice as many cars that you can plug into a wall as Tesla.
Tesla, though, makes more solely electric vehicles, specifically BEVs (or Battery Electric Vehicles). Whereas BYD makes about as many BEVs as they do PHEVs (Plug-In Hybrids).
So far this year, BYD has produced 2.11 million electrified vehicles, which is an increase of 77% over 2022. Of those, 1.1 million were BEVs, for an increase of 81% year-over-year through the first three quarters of 2023. By comparison, Tesla has produced 1.35 million BEVs, for a YoY increase of 46%. The third quarter was the first time in a while that Tesla didn’t set some kind of sales/production record, but the company also had factory upgrades that slowed production a little.
Comparing and contrasting BYD and Tesla is a fun exercise because of the differences and similarities. Tesla has a huge advantage in that it can sell in the United States and buyers can qualify for tax credits. It’s also probably the most regarded electric car brand in the world. BYD, though, has some huge advantages as a Chinese company with a home market that’s being pushed towards electrification. Tesla builds and sells a lot of cars in China, whereas BYD isn’t currently incentivized to sell cars in the United States for both practical economic and political reasons.
If this rate continued, BYD would likely catch up to Tesla and surpass it in BEV production, but factors as diverse as the Chinese company’s acceptance in Europe and softness in the Chinese economy could cause it to slow down. To some extent, a lot of this growth is due merely to how restrained production remained last year due to the aftershocks of COVID.
Also, hey, there’s a new base Model Y RWD. It only gets 260 miles of range and has a 0-60 mph time of just 6.6 seconds. It also only costs $43,990, or about $36,490 post-tax credit. That’s, huh, that’s a great deal. When people tell me they want an electric crossover and they see how cheap a Model Y is it’s hard to convince them to buy anything else. The cheapest Ioniq 5 is $45,500 and gets better range (303 miles), but without the tax credit is less attractive.
The new Volvo EX30 will officially cost $34,950 when it goes on sale and offers 275 miles of range, but in a seemingly much smaller package. I think the success of both companies shows there is, globally, a lot of appetite still for electric vehicles. I think the ability of Tesla, BYD, and now Volvo to offer more affordable cars in various markets shows that price parity between ICE and EVs is closer than we think.
Tesla Avoids Class Action In Autopilot Case
Tesla’s lawyers managed another victory when it got a U.S. District Court to rule against a potential class action lawsuit over claims surrounding Autopilot claims.
The ruling means Tesla will not have to face class action claims on behalf of much larger groups of vehicle owners.
U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam in Oakland, California, in a decision issued on Saturday said four Tesla owners who filed a proposed class action last year had agreed to arbitrate any legal claims against the company when they accepted its terms and conditions while purchasing vehicles through a Tesla website.
Companies love putting in arbitration clauses for this very reason, so be warned the next time you sign one.
New MPGe Calculations Could Cost GM And Stellantis $9.5 Billion
The Biden Administration’s proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards are designed to encourage automakers to move towards more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Inflation Reduction Act is the carrot, but CAFE is definitely the stick.
Our pal David Shepardson at Reuters has seen a letter from the American Automotive Policy Council (an industry group for Ford, GM, Stellantis) to the Department of Energy (DOE) pointing out that this kind of sucks for American automakers. Here’s the key bit from the report:
The previously unreported letter asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to reconsider its plan to revise the “Petroleum Equivalency Factor” that will result in “disproportionately higher compliance costs” for U.S. automakers.
Detroit’s three automakers face $2,151 per vehicles in compliance costs compared with $546 per vehicle on average sold by other automakers, the letter said, and the policy “would reward those auto manufacturers resisting the transition to a fully electric future the most.”
Basically, automakers get credit for MPGe (or the equivalent MPG for a non-pure-ICE vehicle) every time they make an electric, hybrid, or hydrogen vehicle. The higher the MPGe is calculated the more of an offset automakers can claim for their gas-powered vehicles. If the DOE lowers that calculation, it means automakers like GM have to either pay fines or somehow make their remaining gas vehicle portfolio that much more efficient.
This is the point of having a stick, of course, but politics being what it is these days, this is also a way for the current administration to ease the pain for automakers a bit by maintaining a high MPGe for things like PHEVs.
The Kia Carnival Is Killing It
For whatever reason, I have not yet driven the Kia Carnival and, yet, I conceptually love the Kia Carnival, especially in pop-top form. For once, my taste is shared with the larger population.
Kia, like Hyundai, has yet again set sales records for the third quarter of 2023. It’s probably more important to note that the brand sold way more of the affordable Kia Steltos and revised Sportage so far this year while the Kia Stinger slowly fades away.
Nope. Not in my Morning Dump. I’m going to talk about the Kia Carnival MPV/minivan thing, which was one of the most delayed vehicles over the last two years. Guess what? Kia sold 4,638 Carnivals in September. That’s way, way, way more than the 1,614 sold in the same month last year, which is an improvement of 187%!!! This isn’t a fluke, either, as Carnival sales have essentially doubled so far this year.
I need to drive one of these. Did you hear that Jeff? IT’S CARNIVAL TIME.
The Big Question
Does BYD catch up with Tesla in BEV production? Will it pass it? When. Put down your marker.
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