Home » Tesla Beats BYD In First Quarter EV Sales As Both Companies Stumble

Tesla Beats BYD In First Quarter EV Sales As Both Companies Stumble

Tesla Byd Ts2
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While traditional Western automakers are revamping their battery electric vehicle plans, the sales race between two global EV leaders is only getting more interesting. With 386,810 EVs delivered globally in the first quarter, Tesla has swiped the battery electric vehicle crown back from Chinese juggernaut BYD.

As noted by Reuters, BYD delivered 300,114 battery electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2024, down 43 percent over Q4 of 2023 but up 13.4 percent over Q1 of 2023. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Q1 sales figures are down 20.16 percent over Q4 of 2023, and down 8.5 percent year-over-year. In an investor relations media release, Tesla claims its declines are “partially due to the early phase of the production ramp of the updated Model 3 at our Fremont factory and factory shutdowns resulting from shipping diversions caused by the Red Sea conflict and an arson attack at Gigafactory Berlin,” and while those all seem understandable, what the heck happened to BYD? Let’s hypothesize.

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Local events can play a role in affecting sales, and the past three months contained a big one for China. Every first quarter, China celebrates the Spring Festival, a multi-day holiday to ring in a new lunisolar year. Although technically a three-day public holiday, it also marks the first Golden Week of the year, known as Chunyun. The result is a week’s worth of holidays and a busy travel period, and while that’s a booming time for the passenger rail sector, it does have a negative impact on the production and sale of cars.

Byd Seagull

However, Spring Festival alone doesn’t explain a 43 percent decline from quarter-to-quarter. Downgraded BEV sales forecasts across the board in China, though? That’s certainly another explanation. Over the past quarter, Nio and Li Auto both revised BEV sales projections downwards, with the former delivering just 53 more BEVs than its lowered 30,000 unit target and the latter lumping plug-ins together with BEVs but still falling in between February’s forecast of between 100,000 and 103,000 EVs and above a late March Q1 forecast of between 76,000 and 78,000 units as reported by investors.com.

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front three quarters

As the year continues to roll on, this will be an interesting sales race to keep an eye on, because BYD isn’t going down without a fight. Although it may have seen an 86,696 unit shortfall over Tesla, March played an outsized role in its Q1 BEV sales figures, with 139,902 units sold, up 36.3 percent year-over-year. Add in a total vehicle sales target of 3.6 million units this year, and BYD still has room to swing for the fences.

At the same time, Tesla is currently ramping up refreshed Model 3 production, and it’s a comprehensive enough refresh that it should keep consumers interested. Let’s see how things play out, shall we?

(Photo credits: Tesla, BYD)

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Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
22 days ago

I think both Tesla and BYD will do fine. The companies that will get killed by the ramped up competition are all the smaller car makers in China… particularly the ones that still rely on ICE vehicle sales.

I predict the Chinese car market as a major shakeout coming… with a lot of marginal players going under. And in the case of government owned companies, they’ll experience massive losses but will limp along until their owners get tired of throwing good money after bad (along the lines of government owned British-Leyland of the past).

And as the surviving Chinese companies start to export product, it will have an impact on the weaker legacy OEMs that are still heavily invested in ICE vehicles. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of them die.

The legacy OEMs to be concerned about the most are ones that don’t have much in the way of their own BEV tech… companies like Mazda, Suzuki, Isuzu, Subaru and a bunch of two-bit state supported companies throughout the world

And GM and Stellantis will be in trouble if they don’t succeed with their Ultium and STLA electric platforms.

Honda, Toyota and Nissan likely have the money and resources needed to stay in the game. But they had better get way more serious about BEVs really soon or they too will be in trouble within 10 years.

Chairman Kaga
Chairman Kaga
22 days ago

How’s the EV market doing? I saw a new 2024 Hyundai Ioniq5 stickered at $59,500 (it had a $6,000 dealer markup for “limited availability”), and a used 2023 Ioniq5 stickered at $29,999.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
22 days ago
Reply to  Chairman Kaga

EV market is still growing. But there isn’t any more supply problem that would justify dealer markups like that.

That dealer is living in the fantasy world and is hoping that pandemic pricing will last forever.

Best way to handle dealers/sellers like that is to walk right past them without stopping… and maybe giving them the big middle finger as you go by.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
22 days ago

So less, that Tesla beat BYD, but more they failed less….it will be interesting to see what the sales decline on EV’s does for the market. They may have to start producing more small, affordable EV’s to get people to buy in.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
22 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

For a very long time, the Model 3 was supposed to be the small, affordable EV. It never quite hit that target, but now just you wait, there’s going to be an even smaller more affordabler EV. Just keep buying that stock, please.

Don’t get me wrong, despite my cynicism, I’m excited to see what the industry produces here – it has never stopped changing, and it never will – but there are warning signs. Serviceability & reparability are going out the window, and insurance rates (and by extension, total cost of ownership) are climbing as a result. So-called “gigacastings” will eventually settle as a manufacturing tech, just as unibody construction and aluminum did, but remember: unibody and aluminum never became as repairable as body-on-frame and steel were. I expect that pattern to repeat with gigacastings, and repeat again with structural batteries.

Last edited 22 days ago by Pit-Smoked Clutch
Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
22 days ago

For a very long time, the Model 3 was supposed to be the small, affordable EV.”

And compared to what came before it, it was and is. And judging by the sales data, it absolutely did hit the target given that from 2017 to 2023, a little over 2 million Model 3 units have been sold.
https://www.visualcapitalist.com/charted-teslas-global-sales-by-model-and-year-2016-2023/

Now having said that, in a lot of places like the EU, India and China, the Model 3 is considered to be a ‘larger’ car.

To get a larger percentage of the overall market in those places, Tesla needs something smaller.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
22 days ago

I don’t disagree, compared to what came before it, but there’s a reason the M3’s sales (and pretty much all other BEVs as well, to be fair) are overwhelmingly confined to states with additional subsidies that stack with the federal one.

Mike Hart
Mike Hart
22 days ago

Tesla claims its declines are “partially due to the early phase of the production ramp of the updated Model 3 at our Fremont factory and factory shutdowns resulting from shipping diversions caused by the Red Sea conflict and an arson attack at Gigafactory Berlin,””

That impacts supply, not demand. They produced 433k, sold 387k. They aren’t supply constrained.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
22 days ago
Reply to  Mike Hart

Unless the supply isn’t located where the demand is (locally supply constrained).
Also, the way the Tesla prices fluctuate on a regular basis they may purposefully increase prices to reduce demand (and increase margin) to try to better balance it.

Either way, down 9% YoY is not a good thing for a company whose primary investment story is based on growth.

Mike Hart
Mike Hart
22 days ago

True. They only sell 2 models though, and all markets show inventory available across the board. It’s more just Tesla throwing out excuses that are irrelevant to the delivery numbers. Interestingly, if you add up total production vs sales, there’s a gap of nearly 180k vehicles since inception. Where are they?

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
22 days ago
Reply to  Mike Hart

oh, yeah, they are just struggling to explain what happened. Most analysts realize that (I think) and a few have said as much. What Tesla mentions hardly explains it and I think most people recognize there is a softening of demand for EVs.

But, for Tesla to keep its stock price pumped they need to point to causes that they can control and are short-term fixable. Softening general EV demand is largely out of their control and a more structural problem for them as a going concern. So they don’t want to point too much at that.

Last edited 22 days ago by My Goat Ate My Homework
Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
22 days ago

Meanwhile Ford is cutting shifts at the F150 Lighting Rouge Plant, only one shift available now. Expensive electric cars don’t sell, shocking.

Harmanx
Harmanx
22 days ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

You could probably remove “electric” from that sentence and have it remain valid.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
22 days ago
Reply to  Harmanx

I only wish that were true. If it were, the cheap cars would still be made.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
22 days ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

They might sell better if they weren’t shocking people.

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