Back in 2011, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was asked by Bloomberg about a potential rival in the electric vehicle space — China’s BYD. Musk laughed off the suggestion, noting that he did not really see BYD as a rival to Tesla. “Have you seen their car?” Musk said then, poking fun at the Chinese carmaker.
Needless to say, a lot has happened since then. Tesla has grown into the world’s most valuable automaker by market capitalization, and it currently stands as the undisputed leader in all-electric cars. But even amidst these accomplishents, one cannot discount the fact that BYD has also emerged as one of the current powerhouses in the automotive sector, particularly in China.
Today, BYD far outsells Tesla China in raw volume of New Energy Vehicles (NEV), though it should be noted that the Chinese automaker’s numbers include hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids. Tesla’s vehicles also tend to be priced at a premium, so BYD’s more affordable NEV offerings have an edge in the Chinese automotive market.
But despite this, Musk nonetheless gave BYD some much-deserved credit on Twitter as of late. In a response to a video of his 2011 interview about BYD, Musk clarified that such sentiments were from a long time ago. Today, Musk noted, BYD’s cars are very impressive. “That was many years ago. Their cars are highly competitive these days,” Musk wrote.
Musk definitely knows what he is talking about, considering that BYD is arguably Tesla China’s largest competitor. In fact, one may not be faulted for inferring that the rise of BYD as the dominating force in China’s NEV sector might be one of the reasons why Tesla is now working hard to launch its next-generation platform, which would pave the way for electric cars that are more affordable than the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover.
While Musk tends to poke fun at rivals from time to time, he has also shown a tendency to give credit where it is due. Over the years, Musk has expressed his support for several non-Tesla all-electric cars, such as the Porsche Taycan, a Tesla Model S rival. Musk noted in 2019 that the Taycan seems like a good car, and its track time at the Nurburgring was great. He also supported the Mustang Mach-E, despite the vehicle being a direct competitor to the Model Y.
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