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BYD “overtakes” Tesla as world’s biggest EV maker in 1H22, but there’s a catch

Credit: Tesla Greater China/Twitter

Tesla delivered 564,000 all-electric vehicles in the first half of 2022, and while this represented a 27% year-over-year growth, it fell short of the numbers posted by one of the company’s competitors, the Warren Buffett-backed BYD. In comparison to Tesla, BYD sold 641,000 electric vehicles in China during the first and second quarters. 

But there is a catch. While news pieces stating that Tesla has been dethroned by BYD as the world’s biggest electric vehicle producer by sales would likely be quite numerous today, there is some nuance between the vehicles sold by the two “EV makers.” Tesla’s over half a million cars sold in 1H22 are all battery-electric cars without an internal combustion engine. 

As noted by the Financial Times, many of BYD’s models are plug-in hybrids, so they are not exactly full electric cars. Despite this, they are still counted as “zero emission” vehicles under China’s sales rules. BYD’s sales in the first half of 2022 are still impressive, as they showed a growth of over 300% year-over-year. However, it would not be too farfetched to state that BYD’s position as the “largest EV maker” today was accomplished through a technicality. 

That being said, BYD actually accomplished something far more significant in the first half of the year, and it is in no way related to China counting cars with a combustion engine as zero-emission vehicles. According to Seoul-based SNE Research, BYD had outpaced LG Energy Solution in terms of monthly market share since April.

That’s an incredible accomplishment for the Warren Buffett-backed company since the battery business is shaping up to be the backbone of the emerging electric vehicle sector. Interestingly enough, the leap in BYD’s battery business is reportedly due to Tesla’s disruptions in its China factory, which was shut down for over three weeks in April due to Shanghai’s stringent Covid-19 lockdowns. 

Tesla China, Li Auto, NIO, and Xpeng Motors have all been hit hard by China’s Covid-19 lockdowns. BYD was able to escape some of the adverse effects of the country’s lockdowns since a good number of its vehicle factories were not located in the regions and cities that were subjected to the strictest restrictions. 

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BYD “overtakes” Tesla as world’s biggest EV maker in 1H22, but there’s a catch
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