China’s BYD Topped Tesla as the World’s Top Seller of Electric Vehicles

BYD, backed by Warren Buffett, sold nearly 1.9 million electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2022, mostly in mainland China.

BYD
BYD sold three times more purely electric vehicles in 2022 than the previous year. CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Chinese automaker BYD overtook Tesla (TSLA) as the world’s largest seller of electric vehicles in 2022, as Chinese consumers turned to cheaper cars amid the country’s pandemic-ravaged economy and fell out of love with the Elon Musk-run company.

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BYD, backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, sold nearly 1.9 million electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles globally in 2022, while Tesla sold just above 1.3 million units, according to data released by both companies this week. Roughly half of BYD’s EV sales were plug-in hybrid vehicles, which qualify as clean energy vehicles under China’s environmental rules.

Most of BYD’s electric vehicles were sold in mainland China, where EV shopper increasingly favor affordable domestic brands over foreign ones. In 2022, BYD sold three times more purely electric vehicles than 2021, while Tesla’s global delivery increased only 40 percent.

Most BYD’s EV models are priced under $30,000, a bargain compared with even Tesla’s cheapest Model 3, which starts at $37,800 in China.

Tesla doesn’t break down sales number by country. But data released today (Jan. 5) by the China Passenger Car Association show December shipment out of Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory fell 20 percent from a year ago despite price cuts since October, suggesting weakening demand. The Shanghai factory makes Model 3 and Model Y vehicles for Tesla customers in China and Europe.

China’s BYD Topped Tesla as the World’s Top Seller of Electric Vehicles