4 January 2024
BBC Business reporter Peter Hoskins writes that Chinese company BYD has moved a step closer to toppling Elon Musk’s Tesla as the world’s biggest-selling manufacturer of electric vehicles.
The firm said on Monday it had sold a record 526,000 battery-only vehicles in the last three months of 2023.
That was helped by a more than 70% surge in sales in December.
US-based Tesla is scheduled to release its latest quarterly vehicle production and delivery figures before Wall Street opens on Tuesday.
For the year as a whole, Shenzen-based BYD said it had sold more than 3 million so-called-new energy vehicles (NEVs), which includes battery-only vehicles and hybrids.
Almost 1.6 million of its total sales were battery-only vehicles, the firm said.
Industry analysts have forecast that Tesla sold around 483,000 electric vehicles in the last three months of 2023 and 1.82 million for the year as a whole.
Last January, Mr Musk said that Tesla had the potential to achieve 2 million deliveries in 2023 but had since warned that higher borrowing costs were putting pressure on demand for his company’s cars.
BYD’s chief executive Wang Chuanfu co-founded BYD with his cousin in Shenzhen in 1995.
The company made a name for itself as a manufacturer of rechargeable batteries – used in smartphones, laptops and other electronics – that competed with pricier Japanese imports.
It started selling its shares on the stock market in 2002 and diversified by purchasing a struggling state-owned car manufacturer, Qinchuan Automobile Company.
Since 2008 BYD has counted veteran US investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway as a shareholder.
Analysts say BYD owes its growth to its original business – batteries. They are among the most expensive parts of an EV and making them in-house saves BYD a lot of money.
Many of BYD’s competitors rely on third-party manufacturers for batteries.