Tesla is no longer the global bestseller for electric cars

According to sales numbers released this week by Warren Buffett-backed Chinese automaker BYD, Tesla’s commanding lead in the electric vehicle market is shrinking.

BYD said it sold a whopping 641,350 “new energy vehicles” — or full-battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids — in the first six months of 2022, according to a company filing. This sales number represented an increase of around 314% compared to the same period last year.

According to the announcement, BYD sold more than 134,000 vehicles in June alone.

By comparison, Elon Musk’s Tesla sold 564,743 vehicles in the first half of 2022 — a turbulent period as the company struggled to weather a protracted shutdown of a key manufacturing facility in Shanghai and other supply chain-related disruptions.

Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway held a 7.7% stake in BYD in April, which was valued at more than $9 billion. The company spent $232 million to acquire its first stake in the Chinese company in 2008.

Musk said in May he expects some “very strong companies” to emerge from China, and expects Tesla to face stiff competition in the electric vehicle sector in the coming years.

However, the Tesla CEO and richest man in the world was dismissive in a 2011 interview when asked about BYD’s product – literally laughing at the idea that it was a competitor.

“Have you seen her car? I don’t think they have a great product. I don’t find it particularly attractive, the technology isn’t very strong,” Musk told Bloomberg at the time.

The Post has reached out to Tesla for comment.

Tensions between Musk and BYD appeared to have cooled as of June. One of the Chinese company’s top executives described Musk as a “good friend” and said BYD will supply the company with batteries “very soon,” Reuters reported.

Both BYD’s full-battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids qualify as “zero-emission” cars according to China’s industry standards, the Financial Times reported. Hybrids use electric batteries as well as additional motors and traditional fuel sources.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk once laughed at BYD’s cars.
AFP via Getty Images
BYD
BYD’s EV sales grew more than 300% year over year.
LightRocket via Getty Images

Of the 641,350 vehicles sold by BYD in the first half of the year, more than 314,000 were hybrids. Conversely, all of Tesla’s 564,743 cars sold were full-battery electric vehicles — meaning Musk is still a world leader in that regard.